Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Many studies have examined the rapid stopping of action as a proxy of human self-control. Several methods have shown that a critical focus for stopping is the right inferior frontal cortex. Moreover, electrocorticography studies have shown beta band power increases in the right inferior frontal cortex and in the BG for successful versus failed stop trials, before the time of stopping elapses, perhaps underpinning a prefrontal–BG network for inhibitory control. Here, we tested whether the same signature might be visible in scalp electroencephalography (EEG)—which would open important avenues for using this signature in studies of the recruitment and timing of prefrontal inhibitory control. We used independent component analysis and time–frequency approaches to analyze EEG from three different cohorts of healthy young volunteers (48 participants in total) performing versions of the standard stop signal task. We identified a spectral power increase in the band 13–20 Hz that occurs after the stop signal, but before the time of stopping elapses, with a right frontal topography in the EEG. This right frontal beta band increase was significantly larger for successful compared with failed stops in two of the three studies. We also tested the hypothesis that unexpected events recruit the same frontal system for stopping. Indeed, we show that the stopping-related right-lateralized frontal beta signature was also active after unexpected events (and we accordingly provide data and scripts for the method). These results validate a right frontal beta signature in the EEG as a temporally precise and functionally significant neural marker of the response inhibition process.