Inhibition and self-control

Self-control is at the heart of human nature. In day-to-day life deciding not to do something can be more crucial than deciding to do something. During my PhD I started to address the question which brain areas are involved in the intentional inhibition of action, in other words self-control together with Marcel Brass at University of Ghent and Patrick Haggard from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London (Kühn et al., 2009a , Kühn et al. 2009b, Kühn & Brass, 2009). Our data suggest that the brain areas for the intentional inhibition of action seem to differ from brain areas involved in externally triggered inhibition.

Recently, I applied the concept of intentional inhibition to the domain of emotion regulation (Kühn et al., 2011 , Kühn et al., 2014). Together with Rob Hartsuiker and Els Severens we investigated self control in the context of language production (Severens et al., 2011, Severens & Kühn et al., 2012). More recently we have investigated inhibition and self-control capacity in patients suffering from Gilles de la Tourette syndrome in collaboration with Christos Ganos and Alex Münchau (Ganos et al., 2012, Ganos et al., 2014a, Ganos et al., 2014b, Ganos et al., 2014c).

Although inhibition is widely regarded as „untrainable“ (e.g. Gray et al., 2003), we have recently gathered evidence suggesting that inhibition can be facilitated by means of a self-designed video game training.

Image of "Adam and Eve" by Cranach the Elder used with kind permission of The Courtauld Gallery, London