Canceling planned action: An fMRI study of countermanding saccades

Clayton E. Curtis, Michael W. Cole, Vikas Y. Rao, Mark D'Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the voluntary control of motor behavior by studying the process of deciding whether or not to execute a movement. We imaged the human dorsal cortex while subjects performed a counter-manding task that allowed us to manipulate the probability that subjects would be able to cancel a planned saccade in response to an imperative stop signal. We modeled the behavioral data as a race between gaze-shifting mechanisms and gaze-holding mechanisms towards a finish line where a saccade is generated or canceled, and estimated that saccade cancelation took ∼160 ms. The frontal eye fields showed greater activation on stop signal trials regardless of successful cancelation, suggesting coactivation of saccade and fixation mechanisms. The supplementary eye fields, however, distinguished between successful and unsuccessful cancelation, suggesting a role in monitoring performance. These oculomotor regions play distinct roles in the decision processes mediating saccadic choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1281-1289
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Countermanding
  • Eye fields
  • Inhibition
  • Monitoring
  • Oculomotor
  • Saccades
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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