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The Contribution of Functional Brain Networks and Oscillations to the Development of Cognitive Control

Marek, Scott (2017) The Contribution of Functional Brain Networks and Oscillations to the Development of Cognitive Control. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Adolescence is a qualitatively unique period of development when cognitive control abilities are available but are unreliably engaged, which can lead to risk-taking behavior impacting survival. The specific neural mechanisms contributing to the maturation of cognitive control remain poorly understood. To address this issue, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to study brain networks and oscillations underlying cognitive control development in both the resting state and during a cognitive flexibility task. In the first study, we found that the organization of brain networks was established prior to adolescence. However, a network of brain regions anchored in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and anterior insula (aIns) significantly increased its influence over other brain networks via increased network integration during the resting state, resulting in faster correct responses on a cognitive control task. In the second study, we leveraged increased temporal resolution using MEG to further probe resting state connectivity changes with age. We found similar medial prefrontal regions became less coupled in their interactions with the rest of the brain, specifically in the theta band (5-9 Hz oscillations), and were related to developmental decreases in impulsivity. As such, these results suggest there are developmental increases in the flexibility of resting state connectivity, which may afford less effortful instantiation of cognitive control. The third study directly tested age-related changes in brain oscillations during a cognitive flexibility paradigm. We found evidence of strong induction of theta band oscillations in the ACC when task switching that scaled positively with average reaction time. Similar to our resting state MEG findings, we found that the prominence of ACC theta band rhythms decreased with development, suggesting that during cognitive flexibility, adolescents need to engage greater cognitive control to switch between cognitive demands compared to adults. Taken together, these results inform a model of adolescent development such that the specialization of medial prefrontal systems plays a primary role in developmental improvements in cognitive control as they strengthen their integration with other networks. Increased network integration affords these regions the ability to more flexibly engage other brain regions, supporting the maturation of cognitive control.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Marek, Scottsam263@pitt.edusam2630000-0003-0032-9052
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFiez, Julie
Thesis AdvisorLuna,
Committee MemberErickson, Kirk
Committee MemberGianaros, Peter
Committee MemberGhuman, Avniel
Committee MemberVerstynen,
Date: 12 May 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 April 2017
Approval Date: 12 May 2017
Submission Date: 23 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 165
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Neurobiology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Development, adolescence, networks, oscillations, cognitive control, anterior cingulate, salience
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 14:13
Last Modified: 12 May 2017 14:13

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  • The Contribution of Functional Brain Networks and Oscillations to the Development of Cognitive Control. (deposited 12 May 2017 14:13) [Currently Displayed]


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