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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;41(10):1231-8.

Maturation of brain function associated with response inhibition.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5717, USA.



To investigate the developmental trajectory of response inhibition and, more specifically, whether there is a dissociation of function in the prefrontal cortex over the course of development of executive function and associated response inhibition abilities.


Nineteen typically developing subjects, ranging in age from 8 to 20, performed a Go/NoGo task while behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected.


All subjects performed the task with few errors of omission and commission. No relationship between accuracy and age emerged, but the ability to inhibit responses significantly improved with age. Analyses of fMRI data revealed a positive correlation between activation and age in the left inferior frontal gyrus/insula/orbitofrontal gyrus, and a negative correlation between activation and age in the left middle/superior frontal gyri.


These data provide the first evidence of dissociable processes occurring in the prefrontal cortex during development of executive functions associated with response inhibition: (1) Younger subjects activate more extensively than older subjects in discrete regions of the prefrontal cortex, presumably due to increased demands and inefficient recruitment of brain regions subserving executive functions including working memory. (2) Older subjects show increasingly focal activation in specific regions thought to play a more critical role in response inhibition.

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