The prefrontal cortex has been implicated in the suppression of unwanted behavior, based upon observations of humans and monkeys with prefrontal lesions. Despite this, there has been little direct neurophysiological evidence for a mechanism that suppresses specific behavior. In this study, we used an oculomotor delayed match/nonmatch-to-sample task in which monkeys had to remember a stimulus location either as a marker of where to look or as a marker of where not to look. We found a group of neurons in both the frontal eye field and the caudal prefrontal cortex that carried signals selective for the forbidden stimulus. The activity of these "don't look" neurons correlated with the monkeys' success or failure on the task. These results demonstrate a frontal signal that is related to the active suppression of one action while the subject performs another.
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