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Developmental cognitive neuroscience [journal]
- Electrophysiological measures of attention during speech perception predict metalinguistic skills in children. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 2.:1-12.
Event-related potential (ERP) evidence demonstrates that preschool-aged children selectively attend to informative moments such as word onsets during speech perception. Although this observation indicates a role for attention in language processing, it is unclear whether this type of attention is part of basic speech perception mechanisms, higher-level language skills, or general cognitive abilities. The current study examined these possibilities by measuring ERPs from 5-year-old children listening to a narrative containing attention probes presented before, during, and after word onsets as well as at random control times. Children also completed behavioral tests assessing verbal and nonverbal skills. Probes presented after word onsets elicited a more negative ERP response beginning around 100ms after probe onset than control probes, indicating increased attention to word-initial segments. Crucially, the magnitude of this difference was correlated with performance on verbal tasks, but showed no relationship to nonverbal measures. More specifically, ERP attention effects were most strongly correlated with performance on a complex metalinguistic task involving grammaticality judgments. These results demonstrate that effective allocation of attention during speech perception supports higher-level, controlled language processing in children by allowing them to focus on relevant information at individual word and complex sentence levels.
- Acute exercise facilitates brain function and cognition in children who need it most: An ERP study of individual differences in inhibitory control capacity. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 16.:53-64.
The present study examined the effects of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on aspects of cognitive control in two groups of children categorized by higher- and lower-task performance. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were collected in 40 preadolescent children during a modified flanker task following 20min of treadmill walking and seated rest on separate occasions. Participants were bifurcated into two groups based on task performance following the resting session. Findings revealed that following exercise, higher-performers maintained accuracy and exhibited no change in P3 amplitude compared to seated rest. Lower-performers demonstrated a differential effect, such that accuracy measures improved, and P3 amplitude increased following exercise. Lastly, both groups displayed smaller N2 amplitude and shorter P3 latency following exercise, suggesting an overall facilitation in response conflict and the speed of stimulus classification. The current findings replicate prior research reporting the beneficial influence of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive performance in children. However, children with lower inhibitory control capacity may benefit the most from single bouts of exercise. These data are among the first to demonstrate the differential effect of physical activity on individuals who vary in inhibitory control, and further support the role of aerobic exercise for brain health during development.
- Caudate responses to reward anticipation associated with delay discounting behavior in healthy youth. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 7.:43-52.
Choices requiring delay of gratification made during adolescence can have significant impact on life trajectory. Willingness to delay gratification can be measured using delay discounting tasks that require a choice between a smaller immediate reward and a larger delayed reward. Individual differences in the subjective value of delayed rewards are associated with risk for development of psychopathology including substance abuse. The neurobiological underpinnings related to these individual differences early in life are not fully understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we tested the hypothesis that individual differences in delay discounting behavior in healthy youth are related to differences in responsiveness to potential reward.Nineteen 10-14 year-olds performed a monetary incentive delay task to assess neural sensitivity to potential reward and a questionnaire to measure discounting of future monetary rewards.Left ventromedial caudate activation during anticipation of potential reward was negatively correlated with delay discounting behavior. There were no regions where brain responses during notification of reward outcome were associated with discounting behavior.Brain activation during anticipation of potential reward may serve as a marker for individual differences in ability or willingness to delay gratification in healthy youth.
- Loss aversion and 5HTT gene variants in adolescent anxiety. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Oct 26.
Loss aversion, a well-documented behavioral phenomenon, characterizes decisions under risk in adult populations. As such, loss aversion may provide a reliable measure of risky behavior. Surprisingly, little is known about loss aversion in adolescents, a group who manifests risk-taking behavior, or in anxiety disorders, which are associated with risk-avoidance. Finally, loss aversion is expected to be modulated by genotype, particularly the serotonin transporter (SERT) gene variant, based on its role in anxiety and impulsivity. This genetic modulation may also differ between anxious and healthy adolescents, given their distinct propensities for risk taking. The present work examines the modulation of loss aversion, an index of risk-taking, and reaction-time to decision, an index of impulsivity, by the serotonin-transporter-gene-linked polymorphisms (5HTTLPR) in healthy and clinically anxious adolescents. Findings show that loss aversion (1) does manifest in adolescents, (2) does not differ between healthy and clinically anxious participants, and (3), when stratified by SERT genotype, identifies a subset of anxious adolescents who are high SERT-expressers, and show excessively low loss-aversion and high impulsivity. This last finding may serve as preliminary evidence for 5HTTLPR as a risk factor for the development of comorbid disorders associated with risk-taking and impulsivity in clinically anxious adolescents.
- Fear acquisition and extinction in offspring of mothers with anxiety and depressive disorders. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 6.:30-42.
Maternal anxiety and depression are significant risk factors for the development of these disorders in offspring. The pathways through which risk is conferred remain unclear. This study examined fear acquisition and extinction in 26 children at high risk for emotional disorders by virtue of maternal psychopathology (n=14 with a mother with a principal anxiety disorder and n=12 with a mother with a principal unipolar depressive disorder) and 31 low risk controls using a discriminative Pavlovian conditioning procedure. Participants, aged between 7 and 14 years, completed 16 trials of discriminative conditioning of two geometric figures, with (CS+) and without (CS-) an aversive tone (US), followed by 8 extinction trials (4×CS+, 4×CS-). In the context of comparable discriminative conditioning, children of anxious mothers showed larger skin conductance responses during extinction to the CS+ compared to the CS-, and to both CSs from the first to the second block of extinction trials, in comparison with low risk controls. Compared to low risk controls, children of depressed mothers showed smaller skin conductance responses to the CS+ than the CS- during acquisition. These findings suggest distinct psychophysiological premorbid risk markers in offspring of anxious and depressed mothers.
- Predicting others' intention involves motor resonance: EMG evidence from 6- and 9-month-old infants. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 1.:23-29.
The study explores infants' ability to generate on-line predictions about others' action goals through the recruitment of motor resonance mechanisms. To this aim, electromyography was recorded from mouth-opening suprahyoid muscles (SM) of 9-month-old infants while watching a video of an adult agent reaching-to-grasp an object and bringing it either to mouth or head. The results demonstrated, for the first time, that at the age of 9 months there is a dynamic mirror modulation of SM activity by action observation, with the infant's muscles responsible for the action final goal being recruited from the action outset. The comparison with the responses of 6-month-olds tested on the same task showed that in younger and older infants there is a different chronometry of the SM activation with respect to the different phases of the observed action (i.e., bringing vs. grasping, respectively). Results suggest that motor resonance mechanisms triggered within the infants' motor system by action observation undergo gradual development during the first year of life. They also indicate that motor resonance may reflect anticipation of the agent's intention based on the goal of the action.
- Cognitive control network connectivity in adolescent women with and without a parental history of depression. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 7.:13-22.
Adolescent women with a parental history of depression are at high risk for the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD). Cognitive theories suggest this vulnerability involves deficits in cognitive control over emotional information. Among adolescent women with and without a parental history of depression, we examined differences in connectivity using resting state functional connectivity analysis within a network associated with cognitive control over emotional information.Twenty-four depression-naïve adolescent women underwent resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They were assigned to high-risk (n=11) and low-risk (n=13) groups based their parents' depression history. Seed based functional connectivity analysis was used to examine group differences in connectivity within a network associated with cognitive control.High-risk adolescents had lower levels of connectivity between a right inferior prefrontal region and other critical nodes of the attention control network, including right middle frontal gyrus and right supramarginal gyrus. Further, greater severity of the parents' worst episode of depression was associated with altered cognitive control network connectivity in their adolescent daughters.Depressed parents may transmit depression vulnerability to their adolescent daughters via alterations in functional connectivity within neural circuits that underlie cognitive control of emotional information.
- Positive parenting predicts the development of adolescent brain structure: A longitudinal study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Nov 5.
Little work has been conducted that examines the effects of positive environmental experiences on brain development to date. The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the effects of positive (warm and supportive) maternal behavior on structural brain development during adolescence, using longitudinal structural MRI. Participants were 188 (92 female) adolescents, who were part of a longitudinal adolescent development study that involved mother-adolescent interactions and MRI scans at approximately 12 years old, and follow-up MRI scans approximately 4 years later. FreeSurfer software was used to estimate the volume of limbic-striatal regions (amygdala, hippocampus, caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens) and the thickness of prefrontal regions (anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortices) across both time points. Higher frequency of positive maternal behavior during the interactions predicted attenuated volumetric growth in the right amygdala, and accelerated cortical thinning in the right anterior cingulate (males only) and left and right orbitofrontal cortices, between baseline and follow up. These results have implications for understanding the biological mediators of risk and protective factors for mental disorders that have onset during adolescence.
- Gaining insight into adolescent vulnerability for social anxiety from developmental cognitive neuroscience. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Oct 25.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) markedly impairs daily functioning. For adolescents, SAD can constrain typical development precisely when social experiences broaden, peers' opinions are highly salient, and social approval is actively sought. Individuals with extreme, impairing social anxiety fear evaluation from others, avoid social interactions, and interpret ambiguous social cues as threatening. Yet some degree of social anxiety can be normative and non-impairing. Furthermore, a temperament of behavioral inhibition increases risk for SAD for some, but not all adolescents with this temperament. One fruitful approach taken to understand the mechanisms of social anxiety has been to use neuroimaging to link affect and cognition with neural networks implicated in the neurodevelopmental social reorientation of adolescence. Although initial neuroimaging studies of adolescent SAD and risk for SAD underscored the role of fear-processing circuits (e.g., the amygdala and ventral prefrontal cortex), recent work has expanded these circuits to include reward-processing structures in the basal ganglia. A growing focus on reward-related neural circuitry holds promise for innovative translational research needed to differentiate impairing from normative social anxiety and for novel ways to treat adolescent SAD that focus on both social avoidance and social approach.
- Neural circuitry of masked emotional face processing in youth with bipolar disorder, severe mood dysregulation, and healthy volunteers. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2013 Oct 18.
Youth with bipolar disorder (BD) and those with severe, non-episodic irritability (severe mood dysregulation, SMD) show face-emotion labeling deficits. These groups differ from healthy volunteers (HV) in neural responses to emotional faces. It is unknown whether awareness is required to elicit these differences. We compared activation in BD (N=20), SMD (N=18), and HV (N=22) during "Aware" and "Non-aware" priming of shapes by emotional faces. Subjects rated how much they liked the shape. In aware, a face (angry, fearful, happy, neutral, blank oval) appeared (187ms) before the shape. In non-aware, a face appeared (17ms), followed by a mask (170ms), and shape. A Diagnosis-by-Awareness-by-Emotion ANOVA was not significant. There were significant Diagnosis-by-Awareness interactions in occipital regions. BD and SMD showed increased activity for non-aware vs. aware; HV showed the reverse pattern. When subjects viewed angry or neutral faces, there were Emotion-by-Diagnosis interactions in face-emotion processing regions, including the L precentral gyrus, R posterior cingulate, R superior temporal gyrus, R middle occipital gyrus, and L medial frontal gyrus. Regardless of awareness, BD and SMD differ in activation patterns from HV and each other in multiple brain regions, suggesting that BD and SMD are distinct developmental mood disorders.