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Development of the time course for processing conflict: an event-related potentials study with 4 year olds and adults

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BioMed Central
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PMC
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  • Research Article
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  • Law

Abstract

1471-2202-5-39.fm ral ss BioMed CentBMC Neuroscience Open AcceResearch article Development of the time course for processing conflict: an event-related potentials study with 4 year olds and adults M Rosario Rueda*1,2, Michael I Posner1,2, Mary K Rothbart1,2 and Clintin P Davis-Stober1 Address: 1Psychology Dept. University of Oregon, Eugene, USA and 2Sackler Institute, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, NY, USA Email: M Rosario Rueda* - [email protected]; Michael I Posner - [email protected]; Mary K Rothbart - [email protected]; Clintin P Davis-Stober - [email protected] * Corresponding author Abstract Background: Tasks involving conflict are widely used to study executive attention. In the flanker task, a target stimulus is surrounded by distracting information that can be congruent or incongruent with the correct response. Developmental differences in the time course of brain activations involved in conflict processing were examined for 22 four year old children and 18 adults. Subjects performed a child-friendly flanker task while their brain activity was registered using a high-density electroencephalography system. Results: General differences were found in the amplitude and time course of event-related potentials (ERPs) between children and adults that are consistent with their differences in reaction time. In addition, the congruency of flankers affected both the amplitude and latency of some of the ERP components. These effects were delayed and sustained for longer periods of time in the children compared to the adults. Conclusions: These differences constitute neural correlates of children's greater difficulty in monitoring and resolving conflict in this and similar tasks. Background Conflict tasks involve the selection of a sub-dominant object or response in the presence of a competing domi- nant object or response. One of the most common tasks used in the literature to measure conflict is the flanker task. In this task, a target

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