The current proposal is a continuation from a parent grant focused on characterizing the neural basis of cognitive control through adolescence. Core cognitive control abilities are available during adolescence however there are continued refinements into adulthood in the reliability and flexibility of its use supporting optimal decision making. These immaturities appear to be the result of a still developing and vulnerable neural system that can lead to suboptimal decision making leading to increased risk taking, and susceptibility for the emergence of major psychopathology including mood disorders and schizophrenia. A growing literature has provided compelling evidence for immaturities in the function of specific brain regions underlying cognitive control in adolescence. Importantly, emerging evidence strongly indicates that these may be the result of immaturities in the functional integration of large-scale and highly specialized neural networks. Thus far, investigations of network-level function and integration have been hampered by limitations in spatial and temporal domains in unimodal neuroimaging approaches. We propose to use a multimodal approach where parallel studies using fMRI to accurately identify functionally relevant neural regions, DTI to characterize white matter structural connectivity between key regions, and MEG to delineate neural synchrony at high temporal resolution, will enable us to obtain an integrated and comprehensive understanding of the emergence of specific neural networks underlying behavior (Aim 1). In addition, limitations in decision making are often present in the context of emotional contexts, which may be especially relevant during adolescence. As such, we also want to investigate the effects of affect-related physiological arousal on cognitive control (Aim 2). Finally, risk taking behavior does not terminate at the end of adolescence, persisting through the college years. This suggests that key neural immaturities may continue into young adulthood, a period that is yet to be explored. In light of this, we propose to follow a subset of participants from the parent grant into young adulthood and characterize a trajectory of cognitive control that encompasses 10 years (Aim 3). Together, these studies will provide an integrated view of the maturation of systems level functioning and its vulnerabilities informing the biological bases of normative aberrant behavior in adolescence and the emergence of psychopathology. This proposal is novel in its multimodal, cross sectional and longitudinal approach, the implications of which has enormous potential for informing crucial aspects of the nature of development.

Public Health Relevance

There is a public health concern regarding the 100-200% increase in mortality rate in adolescence contributed to by risk-taking behavior and the vulnerability to the emergence of major psychopathology including mood disorders and schizophrenia. The proposed project uses an innovative multimodal neuroimaging approach to identify the neural processes underlying cognitive control and emotion that are immature in adolescence and therefore vulnerable to impairments and has the potential to inform treatment, educational, and parenting approaches.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
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Rossi, Andrew
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Medicine
United States
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