The subthalamic nucleus (STN) supports action selection by inhibiting all motor programs except the desired one. Recent evidence suggests that STN can also cancel an already selected action when goals change, a key aspect of cognitive control. However, there is little neurophysiological evidence for a dissociation between selecting and cancelling actions in the human STN. We recorded single neurons in the STN of humans performing a stop-signal task. Movement-related neurons suppressed their activity during successful stopping whereas stop-signal neurons activated at low-latencies regardless of behavioral outcome. In contrast, STN and motor-cortical beta-bursting occurred only later in the stopping process. Task-related neuronal properties varied by recording location from dorsolateral movement to ventromedial stop-signal tuning. Therefore, action selection and cancellation coexist in STN but are anatomically segregated. These results show that human ventromedial STN neurons carry fast stop-related signals suitable for implementing cognitive control.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience