Review

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp 439-456

First online:

The neuropsychopharmacology of action inhibition: cross-species translation of the stop-signal and go/no-go tasks

  • Dawn M. EagleAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge Email author 
  • , Andrea BariAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • , Trevor W. RobbinsAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge

Abstract

Background and rationale

The term ‘action inhibition’ encapsulates the ability to prevent any form of planned physical response. Growing evidence suggests that different ‘stages’ or even subtypes of action inhibition activate subtly different neuropharmacological and neuroanatomical processes.

Objectives

In this review, we present evidence from two commonly used and apparently similar behavioural tests, the stop-signal task and the go/no-go task, to determine if these have similar neuroanatomical and neurochemical modulation.

Results

Whilst performance of the stop-signal and go/no-go tasks is modulated across only subtly different anatomical networks, serotonin (5-HT) is strongly implicated in inhibitory control on the go/no-go but not the stop-signal task, whereas the stop-signal reaction time appears more sensitive to the action of noradrenaline.

Conclusions

There is clear neuropharmacological and neuroanatomical evidence that stop-signal and go/no-go tasks represent different forms of action inhibition. This evidence translates with remarkable consistency across species. We discuss the possible implications of this evidence with respect to the development of novel therapeutic treatments for disorders in which inhibitory deficits are prominent and debilitating.

Keywords

Impulsivity Human Rat Dopamine Noradrenaline Serotonin