Intentional inhibition refers to the suppression of ongoing behavior on the basis of internally-generated decisions. This ability to cancel planned actions at the last moment is thought to be critical for self-control and has been related to activation in a circumscribed region of the dorsal frontomedian cortex (dFMC). Preliminary theories of intentional inhibition were based on studies that exclusively examined the cancellation of motor responses, and consequently concluded that this region serves the suppression of motor output. Yet recent evidence suggests that the dFMC is also involved in inhibitory control over more abstract internal states such as emotions or desires that have no immediate behavioral output. In this review, we therefore wish to put forth a new integrative perspective on the role of the dFMC in human self-control. We will argue that by virtue of its anatomical location and functional connections, this area may subserve the disengagement from current urges and impulses, thus facilitating successful exertions of self-control across a wide range of contexts by overcoming a self-focused perspective. We will discuss the fit of this view of the dFMC with the existing literature, identify critical experimental determinants for engaging the dFMC in intentional inhibition, and outline promising perspectives for future research.
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Disengagement, Intentional inhibition, Self-control, Urge, dFMC, Executive Function, Frontal Lobe, Humans, Inhibition (Psychology), Intention