Brain correlates of negative and positive visuospatial priming in adults

Christopher I. Wright, Nancy J. Keuthen, Cary R. Savage, Brian Martis, Danielle Williams, Michelle Wedig, Katherine McMullin, Scott L. Rauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A balance of inhibitory and facilitatory mechanisms is essential for efficient and goal-directed behaviors. These mechanisms may go awry in several neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by uncontrolled, repetitive behaviors. The visuospatial priming paradigm is a well-established probe of inhibition and facilitation that has been used to demonstrate behavioral deficits in patients with Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, the brain correlates of this visuospatial priming paradigm are not yet well established. In the present study, we used a visuospatial priming paradigm and event-related functional MRI, to probe inhibitory and facilitatory brain mechanisms in healthy adult women. When subjects performed the negative priming (i.e., inhibitory) task, several regions of the prefrontal cortex were selectively activated relative to the neutral condition. Non-overlapping regions of the prefrontal cortex were deactivated in the positive priming condition. These results support the notion that the prefrontal cortex is involved in both inhibitory and facilitatory processing and demonstrate that this visuospatial priming task shares brain correlates with other positive and negative priming tasks. In conjunction with functional MRI, this visuospatial priming task may be useful for studying the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders in which deficient inhibitory processing or excessive facilitation is a feature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-991
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Female
  • Inhibition
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Trichotillomania
  • Visuospatial priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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