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Brain Cogn. 2010 Feb;72(1):101-13. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2009.08.005. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

What has fMRI told us about the development of cognitive control through adolescence?

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Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Cognitive control, the ability to voluntarily guide our behavior, continues to improve throughout adolescence. Below we review the literature on age-related changes in brain function related to response inhibition and working memory, which support cognitive control. Findings from studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicate that processing errors, sustaining a cognitive control state, and reaching adult levels of precision, persist through adolescence. Developmental changes in patterns of brain function suggest that core regions of the circuitry underlying cognitive control are on-line early in development. However, age-related changes in localized processes across the brain, and in establishing long range connections that support top-down modulation of behavior, more effective neural processing for optimal mature executive function. While great progress has been made in understanding the age-related changes in brain processes underlying cognitive development, there are still important challenges in developmental neuroimaging methods and the interpretation of data that need to be addressed.

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