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Dev Cogn Neurosci [journal]
- An EEG/ERP investigation of the development of empathy in early and middle childhood. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 6.:160-169.
Empathic arousal is the first ontogenetic building block of empathy to appear during infancy and early childhood. As development progresses, empathic arousal becomes associated with an increasing ability to differentiate between self and other, which is a critical aspect of mature empathetic ability (Decety and Jackson, 2004). This allows for better regulation of contagious distress and understanding others mental states. In the current study, we recorded electroencephalographic event-related potentials and mu suppression induced by short visual animations that depicted painful situations in 57 typically developing children aged between 3 and 9 years as well as 15 young adults. Results indicate that the difference wave of an early automatic component (N200), indexing empathic arousal, showed an age-related decrease in amplitude. In contrast, the difference wave of late-positive potentials (LPP), associated with cognitive appraisal, showed an age-related gain. Only early LPP was detected in children, whereas both early and late LPP were observed in adults. Furthermore, as compared with adults, children showed stronger mu suppression when viewing both painful and non-painful stimuli. These findings provide neurophysiological support for the development of empathy during childhood, as indicated by a gradual decrease in emotional arousal and an increase in cognitive appraisal with age.
- Age-related changes in the intrinsic functional connectivity of the human ventral vs. dorsal striatum from childhood to middle age. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 30.
The striatum codes motivated behavior. Delineating age-related differences within striatal circuitry can provide insights into neural mechanisms underlying ontogenic behavioral changes and vulnerabilities to mental disorders. To this end, a dual ventral/dorsal model of striatal function was examined using resting state intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) imaging in 106 healthy individuals, ages 9-44. Broadly, the dorsal striatum (DS) is connected to prefrontal and parietal cortices and contributes to cognitive processes; the ventral striatum (VS) is connected to medial orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, and contributes to affective valuation and motivation. Findings revealed patterns of age-related changes that differed between VS and DS iFCs. We found an age-related increase in DS iFC with posterior cingulate cortex (pCC) that stabilized after the mid-twenties, but a decrease in VS iFC with anterior insula (aIns) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) that persisted into mid-adulthood. These distinct developmental trajectories of VS vs. DS iFC might underlie adolescents' unique behavioral patterns and vulnerabilities to psychopathology, and also speaks to changes in motivational networks that extend well past 25 years old.
- Easy to remember, difficult to forget: The development of fear regulation. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 4.
Fear extinction learning is a highly adaptive process that involves the integrity of frontolimbic circuitry. Its disruption has been associated with emotional dysregulation in stress and anxiety disorders. In this article we consider how age, genetics and experiences shape our capacity to regulate fear in cross-species studies. Evidence for adolescent-specific diminished fear extinction learning is presented in the context of immature frontolimbic circuitry. We also present evidence for less neural plasticity in fear regulation as a function of early-life stress and by genotype, focusing on the common brain derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism. Finally, we discuss this work in the context of exposure-based behavioral therapies for the treatment of anxiety and stress disorders that are based on principles of fear extinction. We conclude by speculating on how such therapies may be optimized for the individual based on the patient's age, genetic profile and personal history to move from standard treatment of care to personalized and precision medicine.
- Reward enhances tic suppression in children within months of tic disorder onset. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 28.
Tic disorders are childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by motor and/or vocal tics. Research has demonstrated that children with chronic tics (including Tourette syndrome and Chronic Tic Disorder: TS/CTD) can suppress tics, particularly when an immediate, contingent reward is given for successful tic suppression. As a diagnosis of TS/CTD requires tics to be present for at least one year, children in these tic suppression studies had been living with tics for quite some time. Thus, it is unclear whether the ability to inhibit tics is learned over time or present at tic onset. Resolving that issue would inform theories of how tics develop and how behavior therapy for tics works. We investigated tic suppression in school-age children as close to the time of tic onset as possible, and no later than six months after onset. Children were asked to suppress their tics both in the presence and absence of a contingent reward. Results demonstrated that these children, like children with TS/CTD, have some capacity to suppress tics, and that immediate reward enhances that capacity. These findings demonstrate that the modulating effect of reward on inhibitory control of tics is present within months of tic onset, before tics have become chronic.
- Electrocortical reactivity to social feedback in youth: A pilot study of the Island Getaway task. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 27.:140-147.
Peer relationships become a major concern in adolescence, yet event-related potential (ERP) measures of reactivity to social feedback in adolescence are limited. In this pilot study, we tested a novel task to elicit reactivity to social feedback in youth. Participants (10-15 years old; 57.9% male; N=19) played a game that involved exchanging personal information with peers, voting to remove players from the game, and receiving rejection and acceptance feedback from peers. Results indicated that participants modified their voting behavior in response to peer feedback, and rejection feedback was associated with a negativity in the ERP wave compared to acceptance (i.e., the feedback negativity, FN). The FN predicted behavioral patterns, such that participants who showed greater neural reactivity to social feedback were less likely to reject co-players. Preliminary analyses suggest that the task may be a useful measure of individual differences: adolescents higher in social anxiety symptoms were less likely to reject peers and showed an enhanced FN to rejection vs. acceptance feedback, and higher depressive symptoms predicted an increased FN to rejection specifically. Results suggest that the FN elicited by social feedback may be a useful, economical neural measure of social processing across development and in clinical research.
- Neural mechanisms of inhibitory control continue to mature in adolescence. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 30.:129-139.
Inhibition is a fundamental executive function necessary for self-management of behaviour. The ability to withhold prepotent responses shows protracted development, extending through childhood and into adulthood. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) with co-registered MRI, the spatiotemporal neural processes involved in inhibitory control were examined in 15 adolescents and 15 adults during a Go/No-go task. Two tasks were run that contained inverse ratios of Go to No-go trials for the experimental (2:1) and control conditions (1:2). Using vector beamforming, images of neural activation between No-go and Go trials were compared for both age-groups and revealed recruitment of the right inferior frontal gyrus in adults (BA 45; 200-250ms), but delayed recruitment of the left inferior frontal gyri in adolescents (BA 45; 250-300ms). Left anticipatory-related activity near the hand motor region (BA 6) was present in both adolescents and adults, but for a longer duration in adults. Adolescents additionally recruited the right middle and superior temporal gyri (BA21, BA22), while adults engaged the right temporal gyrus (BA41) but for a much briefer duration. These findings of delayed recruitment of canonical inhibitory control areas with supplementary and prolonged involvement of temporal areas in adolescents compared to adults indicate an immature inhibitory network even in adolescence.
- Neural systems for cognitive reappraisal in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 19.:117-128.
Despite substantial clinical and anecdotal evidence for emotion dysregulation in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), little is known about the neural substrates underlying this phenomenon. We sought to explore neural mechanisms for cognitive reappraisal in children and adolescents with ASD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We studied 16 youth with ASD and 15 age- and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) comparison youth. Participants were instructed in the use of cognitive reappraisal strategies to increase and decrease their emotional responses to disgusting images. Participants in both groups displayed distinct patterns of brain activity for increasing versus decreasing their emotions. TD participants showed downregulation of bilateral insula and left amygdala on decrease trials, whereas ASD participants showed no modulation of insula and upregulation of left amygdala. Furthermore, TD youth exhibited increased functional connectivity between amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex compared to ASD participants when downregulating disgust, as well as decreased functional connectivity between amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex. These findings have important implications for our understanding of emotion dysregulation and its treatment in ASD. In particular, the relative lack of prefrontal-amygdala connectivity provides a potential target for treatment-related outcome measurements.
- Choosing not to act: Neural bases of the development of intentional inhibition. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 20.:93-103.
Choosing not to act, or the ability to intentionally inhibit your actions lies at the core of self-control. Even though most research has focused on externally primed inhibition, an important question concerns how intentional inhibition develops. Therefore, in the present study children (aged 10-12) and adults (aged 18-26) performed the marble task, in which they had to choose between acting on and inhibiting a prepotent response, while fMRI data were collected. Intentional inhibition was associated with activation of the fronto-basal ganglia network. Activation in the subthalamic nucleus and dorsal fronto-median cortex, regions which have previously been associated with intentional inhibition, did not differ between intentional inhibition and intentional action. Even though both children and adults intentionally inhibited their actions to a similar extent, children showed more activation in the fronto-basal ganglia network during intentional inhibition, but not in the subthalamic nucleus and dorsal fronto-median cortex. Furthermore, a positive relation between self-reported impulsivity and intentional inhibition was observed. These findings have important implications for our understanding of disorders of impulsivity, such as ADHD, which are associated with poor self-control abilities.
- Differentiating neural reward responsiveness in autism versus ADHD. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 17.:104-116.
Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) share certain neurocognitive characteristics, it has been hypothesized to differentiate the two disorders based on their brain's reward responsiveness to either social or monetary reward. Thus, the present fMRI study investigated neural activation in response to both reward types in age and IQ-matched boys with ADHD versus ASD relative to typically controls (TDC). A significant group by reward type interaction effect emerged in the ventral striatum with greater activation to monetary versus social reward only in TDC, whereas subjects with ADHD responded equally strong to both reward types, and subjects with ASD showed low striatal reactivity across both reward conditions. Moreover, disorder-specific neural abnormalities were revealed, including medial prefrontal hyperactivation in response to social reward in ADHD versus ventral striatal hypoactivation in response to monetary reward in ASD. Shared dysfunction was characterized by fronto-striato-parietal hypoactivation in both clinical groups when money was at stake. Interestingly, lower neural activation within parietal circuitry was associated with higher autistic traits across the entire study sample. In sum, the present findings concur with the assumption that both ASD and ADHD display distinct and shared neural dysfunction in response to reward.
- Who are those "risk-taking adolescents"? Individual differences in developmental neuroimaging research. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 12.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has illuminated the development of human brain function. Some of this work in typically-developing youth has ostensibly captured neural underpinnings of adolescent behavior which is characterized by risk-seeking propensity, according to psychometric questionnaires and a wealth of anecdote. Notably, cross-sectional comparisons have revealed age-dependent differences between adolescents and other age groups in regional brain responsiveness to prospective or experienced rewards (usually greater in adolescents) or penalties (usually diminished in adolescents). These differences have been interpreted as reflecting an imbalance between motivational drive and behavioral control mechanisms, especially in mid-adolescence, thus promoting greater risk-taking. While intriguing, we caution here that researchers should be more circumspect in attributing clinically significant adolescent risky behavior to age-group differences in task-elicited fMRI responses from neurotypical subjects. This is because actual mortality and morbidity from behavioral causes (e.g. substance abuse, violence) by mid-adolescence is heavily concentrated in individuals who are not neurotypical, who rather have shown a lifelong history of behavioral disinhibition that frequently meets criteria for a disruptive behavior disorder, such as conduct disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. These young people are at extreme risk of poor psychosocial outcomes, and should be a focus of future neurodevelopmental research.