Cortical and subcortical interactions during action reprogramming and their related white matter pathways.
Neubert FX., Mars RB., Buch ER., Olivier E., Rushworth MF.
The right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) and the presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA) have been identified with cognitive control-the top-down influence on other brain areas when nonroutine behavior is required. It has been argued that they "inhibit" habitual motor responses when environmental changes mean a different response should be made. However, whether such "inhibition" can be equated with inhibitory physiological interactions has been unclear, as has the areas' relationship with each other and the anatomical routes by which they influence movement execution. Paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) was applied over rIFG and primary motor cortex (M1) or over pre-SMA and M1 to measure their interactions, at a subsecond scale, during either inhibition and reprogramming of actions or during routine action selection. Distinct patterns of functional interaction between pre-SMA and M1 and between rIFG and M1 were found that were specific to action reprogramming trials; at a physiological level, direct influences of pre-SMA and rIFG on M1 were predominantly facilitatory and inhibitory, respectively. In a subsequent experiment, it was shown that the rIFG's inhibitory influence was dependent on pre-SMA. A third experiment showed that pre-SMA and rIFG influenced M1 at two time scales. By regressing white matter fractional anisotropy from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images against TMS-measured functional connectivity, it was shown that short-latency (6 ms) and longer latency (12 ms) influences were mediated by cortico-cortical and subcortical pathways, respectively, with the latter passing close to the subthalamic nucleus.