Developmental changes in inhibitory processes: Evidence from psychophysiological measures

Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Biological Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 11/2000; 54(1-3):207-39. DOI: 10.1016/S0301-0511(00)00057-0
Source: PubMed


Two major theories of the development of inhibitory functioning are discussed that assume a close relation between inhibitory ability and the maturation of the frontal lobes. It is argued that a psychophysiological approach may add considerably to the study of developmental change in inhibitory processes. A selective review is presented of studies examining heart rate and brain potential measures obtained in a variety of paradigms supposedly showing inhibitory control. The results of these studies are discussed within the framework proposed by Stuss et al. [Stuss, D.T., Shallice, T., Alexander, M.P., Picton, T.W., 1995. A multidisciplinary approach to anterior attentional processing. In: Grafman, J., Holyoak, K.J., Boller, F. (Eds.), Structure and functions of the human prefrontal cortex. Ann. New York Acad. Sci. 769, 191-211], relating component processes of supervisory-system control to distinct brain regions and psychophysiological measures of attention. It is concluded that the supervisory-system framework provides a heuristic way for examining developmental changes in inhibitory processing.

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    • "Previous research has reported two interesting effects with respect to the development of response inhibition. First, several studies have reported a developmental increase in inhibitory control (van der molen, 2000; Durston et al., 2002; Tottenham et al., 2011; Cohen-Gilbert and Thomas, 2013), a finding which was supported in this study. Second, a prior study showed a dip in response inhibition performance for happy faces during mid-adolescence (Somerville et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the influence of relevant and irrelevant emotions on response inhibition from childhood to early adulthood. Ninety-four participants between 6 and 25 years of age performed two go/nogo tasks with emotional faces (neutral, happy, and fearful) as stimuli. In one go/nogo task emotion formed a relevant dimension of the task and in the other go/nogo task emotion was irrelevant and participants had to respond to the color of the faces instead. A special feature of the latter task, in which emotion was irrelevant, was the inclusion of free choice trials, in which participants could freely decide between acting and inhibiting. Results showed a linear increase in response inhibition performance with increasing age both in relevant and irrelevant affective contexts. Relevant emotions had a pronounced influence on performance across age, whereas irrelevant emotions did not. Overall, participants made more false alarms on trials with fearful faces than happy faces, and happy faces were associated with better performance on go trials (higher percentage correct and faster RTs) than fearful faces. The latter effect was stronger for young children in terms of accuracy. Finally, during the free choice trials participants did not base their decisions on affective context, confirming that irrelevant emotions do not have a strong impact on inhibition. Together, these findings suggest that across development relevant affective context has a larger influence on response inhibition than irrelevant affective context. When emotions are relevant, a context of positive emotions is associated with better performance compared to a context with negative emotions, especially in young children.
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2013; 4:383. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00383 · 2.80 Impact Factor
    • "In fact, there is still a debate at what age children's ability to inhibit distractors is comparable to the ability of adults (e.g., McDermott, PĂ©rez-Edgar, & Fox, 2007; Pritchard & Neumann, 2004). In addition, several ideas have been suggested as to why children might lack the ability to inhibit distractors at an early age; for example, it has been argued that age-dependent differences in cognitive abilities are due to the malleable composition of cognitive capacity (Halford, 1993) or that the age-related differences reflect the maturation of the particular brain areas (e.g., the frontal lobes or the basal ganglia) which are discussed as being important for inhibiting distracting information (Dempster, 1993; Casey, Tottenham, & Fossella, 2002; van der Molen, 2000). Yet, the empirical picture is at best a blurred one; children's performance in most interference tasks produced inconsistent results with respect to the question of whether the ability to process distractors is fully developed at an early age. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Eriksen Flanker task is a classic paradigm for investigating interference at the level of response compatibility. Several previous studies analyzed the ability of young children (starting at the age of four years) to ignore flanking distractors in children-specific variants of the task. However, in all published studies the interference took place at the perceptual level as well as on the level of response compatibility because the compatible condition' involved stimulus congruency as well as response compatibility. By confounding stimulus congruency and response compatibility, interference at the level of response programming and priming at the perceptual level cannot be distinguished: the observed flanker effects might not be the result of successfully ignoring but instead might just be explained due to priming. We tested 57 children aged between 7 and 12 years in a flanker variant in which all trials were perceptually incongruent but different at the level of response compatibility (compatible versus incompatible). Children showed a flanker effect (faster reaction times in response compatible trials) that was, however, in terms of the effect size, smaller than flanker effects reported in previous studies.
    European Journal of Developmental Psychology 05/2013; 11(1):90-101. DOI:10.1080/17405629.2013.819286 · 1.22 Impact Factor
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    • "Along with structural changes in the brain, executive function (defined as the set of mental control processes that permit goal-directed behavior) develops dramatically between childhood and adolescence (Travis and Tecce, 1998). In the development of executive function, for example, age-related gain has been reported in inhibitory control (Van der Molen, 2000), working memory (Casey et al., 2000; Vuontela et al., 2003), task switching (Cepeda et al., 2000), adaptive problem solving (Chelune and Baer, 1986), and various other planning and problem solving tasks (Welsh et al., 1991). Executive function is also related to the control of attention (Cowan et al., 2005), an important element of information processing that is embodied in the central executive component in theoretical conceptions of working memory (Cowan, 1988). "
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    ABSTRACT: Neurocognitive impairment is a feature of childhood chronic fatigue syndrome (CCFS). Several studies have demonstrated reduced attention control in CCFS patients in switching and divided attention tasks. In students, the extent of deterioration in task performance depends on the level of fatigue. Poor performance in switching and divided attention is common in both fatigued students and CCFS patients. Additionally, attentional functions show dramatic development from childhood to adolescence, suggesting that abnormal development of switching and divided attention may be induced by chronic fatigue. The brain structures associated with attentional control are situated in the frontal and parietal cortices, which are the last to mature, suggesting that severe fatigue in CCFS patients and students may inhibit normal structural and functional development in these regions. A combination of treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication is effective to improve attentional control processing in CCFS patients. Studies identifying the features of neurocognitive impairment in CCFS have improved our current understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms of CCFS.
    Frontiers in Physiology 04/2013; 4:87. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2013.00087 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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