Development of and change in cognitive control: a comparison of children, young adults, and older adults.
ABSTRACT Cognitive control involves adjustments in behavior to conflicting information, develops throughout childhood, and declines in aging. Accordingly, developmental and age-related changes in cognitive control and response-conflict detection were assessed in a response-compatibility task. We recorded performance measures, pre-response time (pre-RT) activity and medial frontal negativity (MFN)-sequentially occurring, putative event-related potential (ERP) indexes, respectively, of cognitive control and response-conflict detection. When response conflict reached the highest levels by requiring incompatible responses on posterror trials, children and older adults showed the greatest performance decrements. ERPs indicated that young adults implemented control (pre-RT) and detected the increased conflict (MFN) only when that conflict was at the highest levels, whereas children and older adults did so at lower levels (e.g., posterror, compatible responses). Consequently, the developmental and age-related performance decrements observed here may be due to the undifferentiated and inefficient manner in which children and older adults recruited the processes associated with both cognitive control and response-conflict detection.
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ABSTRACT: The error (-related) negativity (Ne or ERN) has been related to detecting the mismatch between incorrectly executed and appropriate responses or, alternatively, to the degree of conflict between different response alternatives. In this study different levels of response conflict were generated by manipulating task difficulty in a Simon task. According to the product of incorrect and subsequent correct EMG activation, the amount of conflict in error trials was indeed larger for the easy than for the hard condition. In contrast, Ne/ERN amplitudes did not differ between difficulty conditions, nor was the amount of conflict mirrored by Ne/ERN amplitude. Therefore, the present data are at variance with the hypothesis that the Ne/ERN reflects the degree of response conflict.Psychophysiology 08/2007; 44(4):579-85. · 3.29 Impact Factor