Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 221, Issue 3, pp 1635–1651 | Cite as

Dissociable attentional and inhibitory networks of dorsal and ventral areas of the right inferior frontal cortex: a combined task-specific and coordinate-based meta-analytic fMRI study

  • Alexandra Sebastian
  • Patrick Jung
  • Jonathan Neuhoff
  • Michael Wibral
  • Peter T. Fox
  • Klaus Lieb
  • Pascal Fries
  • Simon B. Eickhoff
  • Oliver Tüscher
  • Arian Mobascher
Original Article


The right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) is frequently activated during executive control tasks. Whereas the function of the dorsal portion of rIFC, more precisely the inferior frontal junction (rIFJ), is convergingly assigned to the attention system, the functional key role of the ventral portion, i.e., the inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG), is hitherto controversially debated. Here, we used a two-step methodical approach to clarify the differential function of rIFJ and rIFG. First, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a modified stop signal task with an attentional capture condition (acSST) to delineate attentional from inhibitory motor processes (step 1). Then, we applied coordinate-based meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM) to assess functional connectivity profiles of rIFJ and rIFG across various paradigm classes (step 2). As hypothesized, rIFJ activity was associated with the detection of salient stimuli, and was functionally connected to areas of the ventral and dorsal attention network. RIFG was activated during successful response inhibition even when controlling for attentional capture and revealed the highest functional connectivity with core motor areas. Thereby, rIFJ and rIFG delineated largely independent brain networks for attention and motor control. MACM results attributed a more specific attentional function to rIFJ, suggesting an integrative role between stimulus-driven ventral and goal-directed dorsal attention processes. In contrast, rIFG was disclosed as a region of the motor control but not attention system, being essential for response inhibition. The current study provides decisive evidence regarding a more precise functional characterization of rIFC subregions in attention and inhibition.


Attentional capture Functional magnetic resonance imaging Meta-analytic connectivity modeling Right inferior frontal cortex Right inferior frontal junction Stop signal task 



This work was supported by internal grants of the MAIFOR program and the research focus translational neurosciences (FTN) of the Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center Mainz, Germany. Comprehensive access to the BrainMap database was authorized by a collaborative-use license agreement, provided to Simon Eickhoff by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. BrainMap is supported by NIH/NIMH R01 MH074457. Findings presented in this study are part of the doctoral thesis of Jonathan Neuhoff.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 46 kb)
429_2015_994_MOESM2_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Sebastian
    • 1
  • Patrick Jung
    • 1
  • Jonathan Neuhoff
    • 1
  • Michael Wibral
    • 2
  • Peter T. Fox
    • 3
    • 4
  • Klaus Lieb
    • 1
  • Pascal Fries
    • 5
  • Simon B. Eickhoff
    • 6
    • 7
  • Oliver Tüscher
    • 1
    • 8
  • Arian Mobascher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Focus Program Translational Neuroscience (FTN)Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Brain Imaging Center, MEG UnitGoethe University Frankfurt/MainFrankfurt/MainGermany
  3. 3.Research Imaging InstituteUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterSan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.South Texas Veterans Health Care SystemSan AntonioUSA
  5. 5.Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck SocietyFrankfurt/MainGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical PsychologyHeinrich-Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany
  7. 7.Institute for Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1)Forschungszentrum JülichJülichGermany
  8. 8.Departments of Neurology and PsychiatryAlbert-Ludwigs-University Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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