Functional mechanisms involved in the internal inhibition of taboo words

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The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain processes associated with the inhibition of socially undesirable speech. It is tested whether the inhibition of undesirable speech is solely related to brain areas associated with classical stop signal tasks or rather also involves brain areas involved in endogenous self-control. During the experiment, subjects had to do a SLIP task, which was designed to elicit taboo or neutral spoonerisms. Here we show that the internal inhibition of taboo words activates the right inferior frontal gyrus, an area that has previously been associated with externally triggered inhibition. This finding strongly suggests that external social rules become internalized and act as a stop-signal.

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