Dev Cogn Neurosci [journal]
- Neural activation patterns of successful episodic encoding: Reorganization during childhood, maintenance in old age. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun 29.:59-69.
The two-component framework of episodic memory (EM) development posits that the contributions of medial temporal lobe (MTL) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) to successful encoding differ across the lifespan. To test the framework's hypotheses, we compared subsequent memory effects (SME) of 10-12 year-old children, younger adults, and older adults using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Memory was probed by cued recall, and SME were defined as regional activation differences during encoding between subsequently correctly recalled versus omitted items. In MTL areas, children's SME did not differ in magnitude from those of younger and older adults. In contrast, children's SME in PFC were weaker than the corresponding SME in younger and older adults, in line with the hypothesis that PFC contributes less to successful encoding in childhood. Differences in SME between younger and older adults were negligible. The present results suggest that, among individuals with high memory functioning, the neural circuitry contributing to successful episodic encoding is reorganized from middle childhood to adulthood. Successful episodic encoding in later adulthood, however, is characterized by the ability to maintain the activation patterns that emerged in young adulthood.
- Aerobic fitness is associated with greater hippocampal cerebral blood flow in children. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jul 4.:52-58.
The present study is the first to investigate whether cerebral blood flow in the hippocampus relates to aerobic fitness in children. In particular, we used arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion MRI to provide a quantitative measure of blood flow in the hippocampus in 73 7- to 9-year-old preadolescent children. Indeed, aerobic fitness was found to relate to greater perfusion in the hippocampus, independent of age, sex, and hippocampal volume. Such results suggest improved microcirculation and cerebral vasculature in preadolescent children with higher levels of aerobic fitness. Further, aerobic fitness may influence how the brain regulates its metabolic demands via blood flow in a region of the brain important for learning and memory. To add specificity to the relationship of fitness to the hippocampus, we demonstrate no significant association between aerobic fitness and cerebral blood flow in the brainstem. Our results reinforce the importance of aerobic fitness during a critical period of child development.
- Behavior and neuroimaging at baseline predict individual response to combined mathematical and working memory training in children. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun 30.:43-51.
Mathematical performance is highly correlated with several general cognitive abilities, including working memory (WM) capacity. Here we investigated the effect of numerical training using a number-line (NLT), WM training (WMT), or the combination of the two on a composite score of mathematical ability. The aim was to investigate if the combination contributed to the outcome, and determine if baseline performance or neuroimaging predict the magnitude of improvement. We randomly assigned 308, 6-year-old children to WMT, NLT, WMT+NLT or a control intervention. Overall, there was a significant effect of NLT but not WMT. The WMT+NLT was the only group that improved significantly more than the controls, although the interaction NLTxWM was non-significant. Higher WM and maths performance predicted larger benefits for WMT and NLT, respectively. Neuroimaging at baseline also contributed significant information about training gain. Different individuals showed as much as a three-fold difference in their responses to the same intervention. These results show that the impact of an intervention is highly dependent on individual characteristics of the child. If differences in responses could be used to optimize the intervention for each child, future interventions could be substantially more effective.
- Negative functional coupling between the right fronto-parietal and limbic resting state networks predicts increased self-control and later substance use onset in adolescence. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun 17.:35-42.
Recent developmental brain imaging studies have demonstrated that negatively coupled prefrontal-limbic circuitry implicates the maturation of brain development in adolescents. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and independent component analysis (ICA), the present study examined functional network coupling between prefrontal and limbic systems and links to self-control and substance use onset in adolescents. Results suggest that negative network coupling (anti-correlated temporal dynamics) between the right fronto-parietal and limbic resting state networks is associated with greater self-control and later substance use onset in adolescents. These findings increase our understanding of the developmental importance of prefrontal-limbic circuitry for adolescent substance use at the resting-state network level.
- Auditory discrimination predicts linguistic outcome in Italian infants with and without familial risk for language learning impairment. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Mar 24.:23-34.
Infants' ability to discriminate between auditory stimuli presented in rapid succession and differing in fundamental frequency (Rapid Auditory Processing [RAP] abilities) has been shown to be anomalous in infants at familial risk for Language Learning Impairment (LLI) and to predict later language outcomes. This study represents the first attempt to investigate RAP in Italian infants at risk for LLI (FH+), examining two critical acoustic features: frequency and duration, both embedded in a rapidly-presented acoustic environment. RAP skills of 24 FH+ and 32 control (FH-) Italian 6-month-old infants were characterized via EEG/ERP using a multi-feature oddball paradigm. Outcome measures of expressive vocabulary were collected at 20 months. Group differences favoring FH- infants were identified: in FH+ infants, the latency of the N2* peak was delayed and the mean amplitude of the positive mismatch response was reduced, primarily for frequency discrimination and within the right hemisphere. Moreover, both EEG measures were correlated with language scores at 20 months. Results indicate that RAP abilities are atypical in Italian infants with a first-degree relative affected by LLI and that this impacts later linguistic skills. These findings provide a compelling cross-linguistic comparison with previous research on American infants, supporting the biological unity hypothesis of LLI.
- Impairment on a self-ordered working memory task in patients with early-acquired hippocampal atrophy. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun 3.:12-22.
One of the features of both adult-onset and developmental forms of amnesia resulting from bilateral medial temporal lobe damage, or even from relatively selective damage to the hippocampus, is the sparing of working memory. Recently, however, a number of studies have reported deficits on working memory tasks in patients with damage to the hippocampus and in macaque monkeys with neonatal hippocampal lesions. These studies suggest that successful performance on working memory tasks with high memory load require the contribution of the hippocampus. Here we compared performance on a working memory task (the Self-ordered Pointing Task), between patients with early onset hippocampal damage and a group of healthy controls. Consistent with the findings in the monkeys with neonatal lesions, we found that the patients were impaired on the task, but only on blocks of trials with intermediate memory load. Importantly, only intermediate to high memory load blocks yielded significant correlations between task performance and hippocampal volume. Additionally, we found no evidence of proactive interference in either group, and no evidence of an effect of time since injury on performance. We discuss the role of the hippocampus and its interactions with the prefrontal cortex in serving working memory.
- Connectome hubs at resting state in children and adolescents: Reproducibility and psychopathological correlation. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 May 14.:2-11.
Functional brain hubs are key integrative regions in brain networks. Recently, brain hubs identified through resting-state fMRI have emerged as interesting targets to increase understanding of the relationships between large-scale functional networks and psychopathology. However, few studies have directly addressed the replicability and consistency of the hub regions identified and their association with symptoms. Here, we used the eigenvector centrality (EVC) measure obtained from graph analysis of two large, independent population-based samples of children and adolescents (7-15 years old; total N=652; 341 subjects for site 1 and 311 for site 2) to evaluate the replicability of hub identification. Subsequently, we tested the association between replicable hub regions and psychiatric symptoms. We identified a set of hubs consisting of the anterior medial prefrontal cortex and inferior parietal lobule/intraparietal sulcus (IPL/IPS). Moreover, lower EVC values in the right IPS were associated with psychiatric symptoms in both samples. Thus, low centrality of the IPS was a replicable sign of potential vulnerability to mental disorders in children. The identification of critical and replicable hubs in functional cortical networks in children and adolescents can foster understanding of the mechanisms underlying mental disorders.
- Neural correlates of retaliatory and prosocial reactions to social exclusion: Associations with chronic peer rejection. [Journal Article]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun.:288-97.
Social exclusion is a distressing experience and can lead to both retaliatory and prosocial reactions toward the sources of exclusion. The way people react to social exclusion has been hypothesized to be shaped through chronic exposure to peer rejection. This functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study examined associations between chronic peer rejection and retaliatory (i.e. punishing) and prosocial (i.e. forgiving) reactions to social exclusion and the neural processes underlying them. Chronically rejected (n=19) and stably highly accepted adolescents (n=27) distributed money between themselves and unknown others who previously included or excluded them in a virtual ball-tossing game (Cyberball). Decreasing the excluders' monetary profits (i.e., punishment) was associated with increased activity in the ventral striatum, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and parietal cortex in both groups. Compared to stably highly accepted adolescents, chronically rejected adolescents exhibited higher activity in the dorsal striatum and lateral prefrontal cortex - brain regions implicated in cognitive control - when they refrained from punishment and shared their money equally with (i.e. forgave) the excluders. These results provide insights into processes that might underlie the maintenance of peer rejection across development, such as difficulties controlling the urge to retaliate after exclusion.
- Mu desynchronization during observation and execution of facial expressions in 30-month-old children. [Journal Article]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun.:279-87.
Simulation theories propose that observing another's facial expression activates sensorimotor representations involved in the execution of that expression, facilitating recognition processes. The mirror neuron system (MNS) is a potential mechanism underlying simulation of facial expressions, with like neural processes activated both during observation and performance. Research with monkeys and adult humans supports this proposal, but so far there have been no investigations of facial MNS activity early in human development. The current study used electroencephalography (EEG) to explore mu rhythm desynchronization, an index of MNS activity, in 30-month-old children as they observed videos of dynamic emotional and non-emotional facial expressions, as well as scrambled versions of the same videos. We found significant mu desynchronization in central regions during observation and execution of both emotional and non-emotional facial expressions, which was right-lateralized for emotional and bilateral for non-emotional expressions during observation. These findings support previous research suggesting movement simulation during observation of facial expressions, and are the first to provide evidence for sensorimotor activation during observation of facial expressions, consistent with a functioning facial MNS at an early stage of human development.
- Do more intelligent brains retain heightened plasticity for longer in development? A computational investigation. [Journal Article]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jun.:258-69.
Twin studies indicate that the heritability of general cognitive ability - the genetic contribution to individual differences - increases with age. Brant et al. (2013) reported that this increase in heritability occurs earlier in development for low ability children than high ability children. Allied with structural brain imaging results that indicate faster thickening and thinning of cortex for high ability children (Shaw et al., 2006), Brant and colleagues argued higher cognitive ability represents an extended sensitive period for brain development. However, they admitted no coherent mechanistic account can currently reconcile the key empirical data. Here, computational methods are employed to demonstrate the empirical data can be reconciled without recourse to variations in sensitive periods. These methods utilized population-based artificial neural network models of cognitive development. In the model, ability-related variations stemmed from the timing of the increases in the non-linearity of computational processes, causing dizygotic twins to diverge in their behavior. These occurred in a population where: (a) ability was determined by the combined small contributions of many neurocomputational factors, and (b) individual differences in ability were largely genetically constrained. The model's explanation of developmental increases in heritability contrasts with proposals that these increases represent emerging gene-environment correlations (Haworth et al., 2010). The article advocates simulating inherited individual differences within an explicitly developmental framework.