Monday, March 24, 2008

Cognitive Control in Children and Adults

Here's a very interesting study looking at the different brain-related control networks in children compared to adults. Compared to adults, children use shorter connections, they have less well developed frontal-parietal connections, weaker cerebellar integration, and greater dependence on cingulate operculum pathways.

The net result is that kids struggle more with adaptive cognitive control (being able to adapt to changing demands, e.g. set shifting problems), and complex tasks (like writing to open-ended prompts, perhaps?) are more inefficient, poorly coordinated, and more likely to develop errors. Because long-range connectivity is fairly adult-like by the age of 9 months, the investigators speculate that the key factor in functional development of long range connections is myelination. So keep up the fish oil!

The findings will also be of interest to parents and professionals taking care of children with cerebellar difficulties (sensory processing / integration, mild birth injury, prematurity, ADD, autism, dyslexia). Excerpt: "The relatively late appearance of long-range functional connections between the cerebellum and the brain’s control networks may contribute to children’s inferior ability to monitor performance feedback."

Cognitive Control in Children and Adults pdf
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Fish Oil Improves Reading, Spelling, ADHD Behaviors?
Eide Neurolearning Blog: 'Automatic' Learning - ADHD, Autism, Sensory Integration

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