Response inhibition is associated with white matter microstructure in children

Kathrine Skak Madsen, William Baaré, Martin Vestergaard, Arnold Jesper Møller Skimminge, Lisser Ejersbo, Thomas Ramsøy, Christian Gerlach, Per Åkeson, Olaf Paulson, Terry Jernigan

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Cognitive control of thoughts, actions and emotions is important for normal behaviour and the development of such control continues throughout childhood and adolescence. Several lines of evidence suggest that response inhibition is primarily mediated by a right-lateralized network involving inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), presupplementary motor cortex (preSMA), and subthalamic nucleus. Though the brain's fibre tracts are known to develop during childhood, little is known about how fibre tract development within this network relates to developing behavioural control. Here we examined the relationship between response inhibition, as measured with the stop-signal task, and indices of regional white matter microstructure in typically-developing children. We hypothesized that better response inhibition performance would be associated with higher fractional anisotropy (FA) in fibre tracts within right IFG and preSMA after controlling for age. Mean FA and diffusivity values were extracted from right and left IFG and preSMA. As hypothesized, faster response inhibition was significantly associated with higher FA and lower perpendicular diffusivity in both the right IFG and the right preSMA, possibly reflecting faster speed of neural conduction within more densely packed or better myelinated fibre tracts. Moreover, both of these effects remained significant after controlling for age and whole brain estimates of these DTI parameters. Interestingly, right IFG and preSMA FA contributed additively to the prediction of performance variability. Observed associations may be related to variation in phase of maturation, to activity-dependent alterations in the network subserving response inhibition, or to stable individual differences in underlying neural system connectivity. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)854-862
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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