We do not yet understand how brain and cognitive processes integrate to support the emergence of healthy adult-level cognitive control of behavior, subsequently;our understanding of neurodevelopmental models of psychiatric illnesses is also limited. The broad goal of this application is to gain knowledge regarding the neurobiological basis of cognitive development from childhood to adulthood. We propose to use well-established cognitive neuroscience methods, devised to investigate the link between basic cognitive processes and brain processes. Oculomotor and neuropsychological tasks will be performed by 132 eight to 22 year-old healthy subjects in a hybrid cross-sectional longitudinal design that will span 15 years of development. A subgroup of 88 subjects will also participate in whole-brain fMRI and DTI studies.
The aim of this proposal is to delineate the shape, peak, and variability of cognitive development, characterize how it is subserved by changes in brain activation, and identify the maturation of brain connectivity that supports the transition to adult level brain circuitry. Based on our preliminary findings from an NIMH-funded K01 award and review of the literature, we hypothesize that response inhibition, working memory, and multi-level cognitive processes, such as high level planning, will continue to improve throughout adolescence as widely distributed brain function integrating cortical and subcortical systems emerges supported by increases in indices of myelination connecting these regions. Different rates of development will be characterized by a unique profile of subject characteristics related to puberty, IQ, and gender. Developmental improvements in the performance of multi-level cognitive tasks will be supported by the independent maturation of response inhibition and working memory. This work will result in a normative template of the maturation of basic cognitive control, which will be significant in identifying impairments of cognitive maturation in developmental psychopathologies, including schizophrenia and mood disorders that emerge in adolescence.
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