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Dev Psychol. 2016 Sep;52(9):1341-52. doi: 10.1037/dev0000149. Epub 2016 Jul 21.

Changes in frontal EEG coherence across infancy predict cognitive abilities at age 3: The mediating role of attentional control.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech.


Theoretical perspectives of cognitive development have maintained that functional integration of the prefrontal cortex across infancy underlies the emergence of attentional control and higher cognitive abilities in early childhood. To investigate these proposed relations, we tested whether functional integration of prefrontal regions across the second half of the first year predicted observed cognitive performance in early childhood 1 year prior indirectly through observed attentional control (N = 300). Results indicated that greater change in left-but not right-frontal EEG coherence between 5 and 10 months was positively associated with attentional control, cognitive flexibility, receptive language, and behavioral inhibitory control. Specifically, a larger increase in coherence between left frontal regions was positively associated with accuracy on a visual search task at Age 2, and visual search accuracy was positively associated with receptive vocabulary, performance on a set-shifting task (DCCS), and delay of gratification at Age 3. Finally, the indirect effects from the change in left frontal EEG coherence to 3-year cognitive flexibility, receptive language, and behavioral inhibitory control were significant, suggesting that internally controlled attention is a mechanism through which early neural maturation influences children's cognitive development. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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