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Developmental cognitive neuroscience [journal]
- Age-related increases in long-range connectivity in fetal functional neural connectivity networks in utero. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 27.
Formation of operational neural networks is one of the most significant accomplishments of human fetal brain growth. Recent advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have made it possible to obtain information about brain function during fetal development. Specifically, resting-state fMRI and novel signal covariation approaches have opened up a new avenue for non-invasive assessment of neural functional connectivity (FC) before birth. Early studies in this area have unearthed new insights about principles of prenatal brain function. However, very little is known about the emergence and maturation of neural networks during fetal life. Here, we obtained cross-sectional rs-fMRI data from 39 fetuses between 24 and 38 weeks postconceptual age to examine patterns of connectivity across ten neural FC networks. We identified primitive forms of motor, visual, default mode, thalamic, and temporal networks in the human fetal brain. We discovered the first evidence of increased long-range, cerebral-cerebellar, cortical-subcortical, and intra-hemispheric FC with advancing fetal age. Continued aggregation of data about fundamental neural connectivity systems in utero is essential to establishing principles of connectomics at the beginning of human life. Normative data provides a vital context against which to compare instances of abnormal neurobiological development.
- Effects of incentives, age, and behavior on brain activation during inhibitory control: A longitudinal fMRI study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 19.
We investigated changes in brain function supporting inhibitory control under age-controlled incentivized conditions, separating age- and performance-related activation in an accelerated longitudinal design including 10- to 22-year-olds. Better inhibitory control correlated with striatal activation during neutral trials, while Age X Behavior interactions in the striatum indicated that in the absence of extrinsic incentives, younger subjects with greater reward circuitry activation successfully engage in greater inhibitory control. Age was negatively correlated with ventral amygdala activation during Loss trials, suggesting that amygdala function more strongly mediates bottom-up processing earlier in development when controlling the negative aspects of incentives to support inhibitory control. Together, these results indicate that with development, reward-modulated cognitive control may be supported by incentive processing transitions in the amygdala, and from facilitative to obstructive striatal function during inhibitory control.
- Development of the Default Mode and Central Executive Networks across early adolescence: A longitudinal study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Aug 20.:148-159.
The mature brain is organized into distinct neural networks defined by regions demonstrating correlated activity during task performance as well as rest. While research has begun to examine differences in these networks between children and adults, little is known about developmental changes during early adolescence. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined the Default Mode Network (DMN) and the Central Executive Network (CEN) at ages 10 and 13 in a longitudinal sample of 45 participants. In the DMN, participants showed increasing integration (i.e., stronger within-network correlations) between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the medial prefrontal cortex. During this time frame participants also showed increased segregation (i.e., weaker between-network correlations) between the PCC and the CEN. Similarly, from age 10 to 13, participants showed increased connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and other CEN nodes, as well as increasing DMN segregation. IQ was significantly positively related to CEN integration at age 10, and between-network segregation at both ages. These findings highlight early adolescence as a period of significant maturation for the brain's functional architecture and demonstrate the utility of longitudinal designs to investigate neural network development.
- Age differences in the impact of peers on adolescents' and adults' neural response to reward. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 2.
Prior research suggests that increased adolescent risk-taking in the presence of peers may be linked to the influence of peers on the valuation and processing of rewards during decision-making. The current study explores this idea by examining how peer observation impacts the processing of rewards when such processing is isolated from other facets of risky decision-making (e.g. risk-perception and preference, inhibitory processing, etc.). In an fMRI paradigm, a sample of adolescents (ages 14-19) and adults (ages 25-35) completed a modified High/Low Card Guessing Task that included rewarded and un-rewarded trials. Social context was manipulated by having participants complete the task both alone and while being observed by two, same-age, same-sex peers. Results indicated an interaction of age and social context on the activation of reward circuitry during the receipt of reward; when observed by peers adolescents exhibited greater ventral striatal activation than adults, but no age-related differences were evinced when the task was completed alone. These findings suggest that, during adolescence, peers influence recruitment of reward-related regions even when they are engaged outside of the context of risk-taking. Implications for engagement in prosocial, as well as risky, behaviors during adolescence are discussed.
- Neural processing of moral violations among incarcerated adolescents with psychopathic traits. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 19.:181-189.
Neuroimaging studies have found that adult male psychopaths show reduced engagement of limbic and paralimbic circuitry while making moral judgments. The goal of this study was to investigate whether these findings extend to adolescent males with psychopathic traits. Functional MRI was used to record hemodynamic activity in 111 incarcerated male adolescents while they viewed unpleasant pictures that did or did not depict moral transgressions and rated each on "moral violation severity". Adolescents were assessed for psychopathic traits using the Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version (PCL-YV), Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-Present and Lifetime Version (KSADS-PL) Conduct Disorder supplement, and Inventory of Callous and Unemotional Traits-Youth Version (ICU-Y). While viewing pictures depicting moral transgressions, CD scores were negatively correlated with hemodynamic responses in the anterior temporal cortex. Adolescents scoring low on the ICU-Y showed a positive correlation between right amygdala responses and severity of violation ratings; those with high ICU-Y scores showed a negative correlation. While viewing unpleasant pictures with and without moral transgressions, PCL-YV scores were negatively correlated with hemodynamic responses in the left amygdala. Overall, the results are consistent with those previously found in adult male psychopaths, but vary depending on the type of psychopathy assessment.
- The influence of executive functions on spatial biases varies during the lifespan. [REVIEW]
- Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Sep 19.:170-180.
Many perceptual processes, such as language or face perception, are asymmetrically organised in the hemispheres already in childhood. These asymmetries induce behaviourally observable spatial biases in which the observer perceives stimuli in one of the hemispaces more efficiently or more frequently than in the other one. Another source for spatial biases is spatial attention which is also asymmetrically organised in the hemispheres. The bias induced by attention is directed towards the right side, which is clearly demonstrated by patients with neglect but also in lesser degree by healthy observers in cognitively loading situations. Recent findings indicate that children and older adults show stronger spatial biases than young adults. We discuss how the development of executive functions might contribute to the manifestation of spatial biases during the lifespan. We present a model in which the interaction between the asymmetrical perceptual processes, the age-related development of the lateralised spatial attention and the development of the executive functions influence spatial perceptual performance and in which the development and decline of the executive processes during the lifespan modify the spatial biases.
- 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.