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Differentiation in prefrontal cortex recruitment during childhood: Evidence from cognitive control demands and social contexts

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Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


Emerging cognitive control during childhood is largely supported by the development of distributed neural networks in which the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is central. The present study used fNIRS to examine how PFC is recruited to support cognitive control in 5-6 and 8-9-year-old children, by (a) progressively increasing cognitive control demands within the same task, and (b) manipulating the social context in which the task was performed (neutral, cooperative, or competitive), a factor that has been shown to influence cognitive control. Activation increased more in left than right PFC with cognitive control demands, a pattern which was more pronounced in older than younger children. In addition, activation was higher in left PFC in competitive than cooperative contexts, and higher in right PFC in cooperative and neutral than competitive contexts. These findings suggest that increasingly efficient cognitive control during childhood is supported by more differentiated recruitment of PFC as a function of cognitive control demands with age.

    Research areas

  • prefrontal cortex, refrontal cortex, cooperation, competition, children, functional nearinfrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)

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