Scientific Reports (Feb 2024)

The role of dorsal premotor cortex in joint action inhibition

  • Elisa Dolfini,
  • Pasquale Cardellicchio,
  • Luciano Fadiga,
  • Alessandro D’Ausilio

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
pp. 1 – 12


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Abstract Behavioral interpersonal coordination requires smooth negotiation of actions in time and space (joint action—JA). Inhibitory control may play a role in fine-tuning appropriate coordinative responses. To date, little research has been conducted on motor inhibition during JA and on the modulatory influence that premotor areas might exert on inhibitory control. Here, we used an interactive task in which subjects were required to reach and open a bottle using one hand. The bottle was held and stabilized by a co-actor (JA) or by a mechanical holder (vice clamp, no-JA). We recorded two TMS-based indices of inhibition (short-interval intracortical inhibition—sICI; cortical silent period—cSP) during the reaching phase of the task. These reflect fast intracortical (GABAa-mediated) and slow corticospinal (GABAb-mediated) inhibition. Offline continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) was used to interfere with dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), ventral premotor cortex (PMv), and control site (vertex) before the execution of the task. Our results confirm a dissociation between fast and slow inhibition during JA coordination and provide evidence that premotor areas drive only slow inhibitory mechanisms, which in turn may reflect behavioral co-adaptation between trials. Exploratory analyses further suggest that PMd, more than PMv, is the key source of modulatory drive sculpting movements, according to the socio-interactive context.