Dr. Mandy Maguire has an article slated for publication in the journal Brain and Cognition which provides a clearer understanding of how response inhibition develops in children.
Maguire, an assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, investigates child development. She is interested in how the inhibitory process differs as tasks become more difficult because inhibition is necessary in many higher order cognitive tasks throughout childhood.
For this study, she monitored the behaviors and brain responses of children in two groups—7 to 8 year olds and 10 to 11 year olds—in three fast tasks where children had to press a button 80% of the time and inhibit a button press response 20% of the time. The tasks differed in difficulty.
By comparing across the three tasks she found that although the two groups had similar reaction times and error rates, the brain responses showed that they were using different strategies. Younger children were focused on when to press a button, but older children were using an adult-like strategy of looking for when not to press the button.
“The results are important to our understanding of the developmental changes in inhibition that occur in middle-childhood or the ages of 6 to 11,” Maguire said. “This may be of particular interest in studying children with inhibitory deficits such as attention-deficit disorder.”
Article: “How Semantic Categorization Influences Inhibitory Processing in Middle-childhood: An Event Related Potentials Study”