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Posterior brain sensorimotor recruitment for inhibition of delayed responses in children
Experimental Brain Research  (IF1.972),  Pub Date : 2021-08-27, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-021-06191-9
Ciesielski, Kristina T. R., Bouchard, Christopher, Solis, Isabel, Coffman, Brian A., Tofighi, Davood, Pesko, John C.

Inhibitory control, the ability to suppress irrelevant thoughts or actions, is central to cognitive and social development. Protracted maturation of frontal brain networks has been reported as a major restraint for this ability, yet, young children, when motivated, successfully inhibit delayed responses. A better understanding of the age-dependent neural inhibitory mechanism operating during the awaiting-to-respond window in children may elucidate this conundrum. We recorded ERPs from children and parental adults to a visual-spatial working memory task with delayed responses. Cortical activation elicited during the first 1000 ms of the awaiting-to-respond window showed, as predicted by prior studies, early inhibitory effects in prefrontal ERPs (P200, 160–260 ms) associated with top-down attentional-biasing, and later effects in parietal/occipital ERPs (P300, 270–650 ms) associated with selective inhibition of task-irrelevant stimuli/responses and recurrent memory retrieval. Children successfully inhibited delayed responses and performed with a high level of accuracy (often over 90%), although, the prefrontal P200 displayed reduced amplitude and uniformly delayed peak latency, suggesting low efficacy of top-down attentional-biasing. P300, however, with no significant age-contrasts in latency was markedly elevated in children over the occipital/inferior parietal regions, with effects stronger in younger children. These results provide developmental evidence supporting the sensorimotor recruitment model of visual-spatial working memory relying on the occipital/parietal regions of the early maturing dorsal-visual network. The evidence is in line with the concept of age-dependent variability in the recruitment of cognitive inhibitory networks, complementing the former predominant focus on frontal lobes.