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Dev Cogn Neurosci [journal]
- Prefrontal cortex involvement in creative problem solving in middle adolescence and adulthood. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 16.:197-206.
Creative cognition, defined as the generation of new yet appropriate ideas and solutions, serves important adaptive purposes. Here, we tested whether and how middle adolescence, characterized by transformations toward life independency and individuality, is a more profitable phase than adulthood for creative cognition. Behavioral and neural differences for creative problem solving in adolescents (15-17 years) and adults (25-30 years) were measured while performing a matchstick problem task (MPT) in the scanner and the creative ability test (CAT), a visuo-spatial divergent thinking task, outside the scanner. Overall performances were comparable, although MPT performance indicated an advantage for adolescents in creative problem solving. In addition, adolescents showed more activation in lateral prefrontal cortex (ventral and dorsal) during creative problem solving compared to adults. These areas correlated with performances on the MPT and the CAT performance. We discuss that extended prefrontal cortex activation in adolescence is important for exploration and aids in creative cognition.
- Fronto-limbic function in unaffected offspring at familial risk for bipolar disorder during an emotional working memory paradigm. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 23.:185-196.
Evidence from neuroimaging studies indicate that individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) exhibit altered functioning of fronto-limbic systems implicated in voluntary emotion regulation. Few studies, however, have examined the extent to which unaffected youth at familial risk for BD exhibit such alterations. Using an fMRI emotional working memory paradigm, we investigated the functioning of fronto-limbic systems in fifteen healthy bipolar offspring (8-17 years old) with at least one parent diagnosed with BD (HBO), and 16 age-matched healthy control (HC) participants. Neural activity and functional connectivity analyses focused on a priori neural regions supporting emotion processing (amygdala and ventral striatum) and voluntary emotion regulation (ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)). Relative to HC, HBO exhibited greater right VLPFC (BA47) activation in response to positive emotional distracters and reduced VLPFC modulation of the amygdala to both the positive and negative emotional distracters; there were no group differences in connectivity for the neutral distracters. These findings suggest that alterations in the functioning of fronto-limbic systems implicated in voluntary emotion regulation are present in unaffected bipolar offspring. Future longitudinal studies are needed to determine the extent to which such alterations represent neurodevelopmental markers of risk for future onset of BD.
- Predicting IQ change from brain structure: A cross-validation study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 15.:172-184.
Procedures that can predict cognitive abilities from brain imaging data are potentially relevant to educational assessments and studies of functional anatomy in the developing brain. Our aim in this work was to quantify the degree to which IQ change in the teenage years could be predicted from structural brain changes. Two well-known k-fold cross-validation analyses were applied to data acquired from 33 healthy teenagers - each tested at Time 1 and Time 2 with a 3.5 year interval. One approach, a Leave-One-Out procedure, predicted IQ change for each subject on the basis of structural change in a brain region that was identified from all other subjects (i.e., independent data). This approach predicted 53% of verbal IQ change and 14% of performance IQ change. The other approach used half the sample, to identify regions for predicting IQ change in the other half (i.e., a Split half approach); however - unlike the Leave-One-Out procedure - regions identified using half the sample were not significant. We discuss how these out-of-sample estimates compare to in-sample estimates; and draw some recommendations for k-fold cross-validation procedures when dealing with small datasets that are typical in the neuroimaging literature.
- Specific aspects of cognitive and language proficiency account for variability in neural indices of semantic and syntactic processing in children. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 17.:149-171.
The neural activity mediating language processing in young children is characterized by large individual variability that is likely related in part to individual strengths and weakness across various cognitive abilities. The current study addresses the following question: How does proficiency in specific cognitive and language functions impact neural indices mediating language processing in children? Thirty typically developing seven- and eight-year-olds were divided into high-normal and low-normal proficiency groups based on performance on nonverbal IQ, auditory word recall, and grammatical morphology tests. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were elicited by semantic anomalies and phrase structure violations in naturally spoken sentences. The proficiency for each of the specific cognitive and language tasks uniquely contributed to specific aspects (e.g., timing and/or resource allocation) of neural indices underlying semantic (N400) and syntactic (P600) processing. These results suggest that distinct aptitudes within broader domains of cognition and language, even within the normal range, influence the neural signatures of semantic and syntactic processing. Furthermore, the current findings have important implications for the design and interpretation of developmental studies of ERPs indexing language processing, and they highlight the need to take into account cognitive abilities both within and outside the classic language domain.
- ERPs reveal the temporal dynamics of auditory word recognition in specific language impairment. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 5.:134-148.
We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to compare auditory word recognition in children with specific language impairment (SLI group; N=14) to a group of typically developing children (TD group; N=14). Subjects were presented with pictures of items and heard auditory words that either matched or mismatched the pictures. Mismatches overlapped expected words in word-onset (cohort mismatches; see: DOLL, hear: dog), rhyme (CONE -bone), or were unrelated (SHELL -mug). In match trials, the SLI group showed a different pattern of N100 responses to auditory stimuli compared to the TD group, indicative of early auditory processing differences in SLI. However, the phonological mapping negativity (PMN) response to mismatching items was comparable across groups, suggesting that just like TD children, children with SLI are capable of establishing phonological expectations and detecting violations of these expectations in an online fashion. Perhaps most importantly, we observed a lack of attenuation of the N400 for rhyming words in the SLI group, which suggests that either these children were not as sensitive to rhyme similarity as their typically developing peers, or did not suppress lexical alternatives to the same extent. These findings help shed light on the underlying deficits responsible for SLI.
- Mental imagery, emotion and psychopathology across child and adolescent development. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Mar 5.:119-133.
Mental imagery-based interventions are receiving increasing interest for the treatment of psychological disorders in adults. This is based on evidence that mental imagery potently influences the experience of emotion in non-clinical samples, and that a number of psychological disorders are marked by syndrome-specific, distressing abnormalities in mental imagery. During childhood and adolescence, neurocognitive development impacting mental imagery processes may moderate its relationship with clinically-relevant emotional symptoms at a number of potential loci. Crucially, these changes could impact vulnerability to distressing mental imagery and the efficacy of mental imagery-based clinical interventions. This review synthesises evidence pertaining to developmental changes in the role and content of mental imagery, and in the cognitive sub-processes required to generate and sustain mental images. Subsequently, we discuss implications for understanding the developmental relationship between mental imagery, emotion and psychopathology. Translational cognitive neuroscience research investigating the content, emotional impact and neurocognitive substrates of mental imagery across development may reveal insights into trajectories of vulnerability to symptoms of a number of psychological disorders. If proper consideration is given to developmental factors, techniques based on mental imagery may be valuable as part of a treatment armoury for child and adolescent clinical populations and those at risk of emotional disorders.
- Sex differences and structural brain maturation from childhood to early adulthood. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Feb 24.:106-118.
Recent advances in structural brain imaging have demonstrated that brain development continues through childhood and adolescence. In the present cross-sectional study, structural MRI data from 442 typically developing individuals (range 8-30) were analyzed to examine and replicate the relationship between age, sex, brain volumes, cortical thickness and surface area. Our findings show differential patterns for subcortical and cortical areas. Analysis of subcortical volumes showed that putamen volume decreased with age and thalamus volume increased with age. Independent of age, males demonstrated larger amygdala and thalamus volumes compared to females. Cerebral white matter increased linearly with age, at a faster pace for females than males. Gray matter showed nonlinear decreases with age. Sex-by-age interactions were primarily found in lobar surface area measurements, with males demonstrating a larger cortical surface up to age 15, while cortical surface in females remained relatively stable with increasing age. The current findings replicate some, but not all prior reports on structural brain development, which calls for more studies with large samples, replications, and specific tests for brain structural changes. In addition, the results point toward an important role for sex differences in brain development, specifically during the heterogeneous developmental phase of puberty.
- MEG premotor abnormalities in children with Asperger's syndrome: Determinants of social behavior? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Feb 18.:95-105.
Children with Asperger's syndrome show deficits in social functioning while their intellectual and language development is intact suggesting a specific dysfunction in mechanisms mediating social cognition. An action observation/execution matching system might be one such mechanism. Recent studies indeed showed that electrophysiological modulation of the "Mu-rhythm" in the 10-12Hz range is weaker when individuals with Asperger's syndrome observe actions performed by others compared to controls. However, electrophysiological studies typically fall short in revealing the neural generators of this activity. To fill this gap we assessed magnetoencephalographic Mu-modulations in Asperger's and typically developed children, while observing grasping movements. Mu-power increased at frontal and central sensors during movement observation. This modulation was stronger in typical than in Asperger children. Source localization revealed stronger sources in premotor cortex, the intraparietal lobule (IPL) and the mid-occipito-temporal gyrus (MOTG) and weaker sources in prefrontal cortex in typical participants compared to Asperger. Activity in premotor regions, IPL and MOTG correlated positively with social competence, whereas prefrontal Mu-sources correlated negatively with social competence. No correlation with intellectual ability was found at any of these sites. These findings localize abnormal Mu-activity in the brain of Asperger children providing evidence which associates motor-system abnormalities with social-function deficits.
- The role of pause as a prosodic boundary marker: Language ERP studies in German 3- and 6-year-olds. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Feb 9.:86-94.
Spoken language is hierarchically structured into prosodic units divided by prosodic breaks. The largest prosodic breaks in an utterance are intonational phrase boundaries (IPBs), which are defined by three acoustic cues, namely, pitch change, preboundary lengthening, and pausing. Previous studies have revealed that the electrophysiological marker of IPB perception, the Closure Positive Shift (CPS), is established between 2 and 3 years of age. Here, we examined the neural activity underlying IPB perception in children by targeting their reliance on pausing; hypothesized to be a key boundary cue in German. To evaluate the role of pausing, we tested IPB perception without the boundary pause, but with pitch change and preboundary lengthening. We tested children at the age of 3 years, when the CPS in response to IPBs has just emerged, and at 6 years, when language abilities are further developed. Results revealed that 6-year-olds, but not 3-year-olds, show the CPS in response to IPBs without full prosodic marking. These results indicate developmental differences with respect to the role of pausing as a prosodic boundary cue in German. The correlation of children's IPB perception and their syntactic abilities further corroborates the close prosody-syntax interaction in children's advancing ability to process phrase structure.