Hemispheric asymmetries in the transition from action preparation to execution

Valentina Sulpizio, Giuliana Lucci, Marika Berchicci, Gaspare Galati, Sabrina Pitzalis, Francesco Di Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flexible and adaptive behavior requires the ability to contextually stop inappropriate actions and select the right one as quickly as possible. Recently, it has been proposed that three brain regions, i.e., the inferior frontal gyrus (iFg), the anterior insula (aIns), and the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPs), play an important role in several processing phases of perceptual decision tasks, especially in the preparation, perception and action phases, respectively. However, little is known about hemispheric differences in the activation of these three areas during the transition from perception to action. Many studies have examined how people prepare to stop upcoming responses through both proactive and reactive inhibitory control. Although inhibitory control has been associated with activity in the right prefrontal cortex (PFC), we have previously reported that, during a discriminative response task performed with the right hand, we observed: 1) a bilateral activity in the iFg during the preparation phase, and 2) a left dominant activity in the aIns and aIPs during the transition from perception to action, i.e., the so-called stimulus-response mapping. To clarify the hemispheric dominance of these processes, we combined the high temporal resolution of event-related potentials (ERPs) with the high spatial resolution of event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants performed a discriminative response task (DRT) and a simple response task (SRT) using their non-dominant left hand. We confirmed that proactive inhibitory control originates in the iFg: its activity started one second before the stimulus onset and was released concomitantly to the stimulus appearance. Most importantly, we confirmed the presence of a bilateral iFg activity that seems to reflect a bilateral proactive control rather than a right-hemisphere dominance or a stronger control of the hemisphere contralateral to the responding hand. Further, we observed a stronger activation of the left aIns and a right-lateralized activation of the aIPs reflecting left-hemisphere dominance for stimulus-response mapping finalized to response execution and a contralateral-hand parietal premotor activity, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-402
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


  • EEG
  • fMRI
  • Go/No-Go
  • Perceptual-decision
  • Prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Hemispheric asymmetries in the transition from action preparation to execution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this