The ability to inhibit prepotent responses is a central facet of cognitive control. However, the role of perceptual factors in response inhibition processes is still poorly understood and an underrepresented field of research. In the current study, we focus on the role of conflicts between perceptual stimulus features (so-called S-S conflicts) for response inhibition. We introduce a novel semantic Stroop Condition task and analyze EEG data using source localization and temporal EEG signal decomposition methods to delineate the neural mechanisms how semantic S-S conflicts modulate response inhibition. We show that semantic conflicts enhance response inhibition performance by modulating neural processes relating to conflict resolution mechanisms in the middle and inferior frontal cortex, as well as the ACC. Opposed to that, Stroop-like (S-S) conflicts compromise response execution by affecting decision processes in inferior parietal cortices. The data suggest that when action control processes and their neurophysiological correlates depend on regions specialized in the processing of semantic conflicts, there is an improvement in response inhibition. The results show that Stroop-like semantic conflicts have opposite effects depending on whether a response has to be executed or inhibited. These opposing effects are then also associated with different functional–neuroanatomical structures. The results of the study show mechanisms by which stimulus-related processes influence mechanisms of response control.

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