Development of cognitive control - an fNIRS investigation of a Go/No-Go task in children
Cognitive control allows humans to override impulses and suppress inappropriate actions. It is essential for adapting to ever-changing environments and to challenges in our daily lives and across the lifespan. Despite its ubiquity and importance, the underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive control are still not well understood. The Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control (DMC) framework proposes cognitive control operates via one of two modes—either a proactive or reactive operating mode—but debate continues as to how the two modes interact or are balanced. Furthermore, little empirical evidence bears upon the contention that there is a shift from the reactive to proactive mode as younger children mature. I address these issues by employing functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that measures differences in local oxygenation levels of the cerebral blood flow to capture brain function measurements. In the initial experiment, I determine appropriate parameters for a Go/No-Go task, a paradigm frequently used to investigate inhibitory control, to elicit prepotent motor activity in a young adult population whilst recording neural activation with the fNIRS. The results inform the second experiment, to explore evidence of a shift from a reactive to a proactive control during childhood development in typically developing children. Behavioural results suggest younger children show a tendency for reactive control, with a shift to proactive control as they age. fNIRS results from measurements made concurrently during the Go/No-Go task indicate that right lateralised frontal activation was evident.