News Pictures

Hot Publication - Perlman et al.

Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Evidence for Development of Prefrontal Engagement in Working Memory in Early Through Middle Childhood
Perlman SB, Huppert TJ and Luna B
Cerebral Cortex, 2015, 1–10

The neural underpinnings of working memory are hypothesized to develop incrementally across preschool and early school age, coinciding with the rapid maturation of executive function occurring during this period.

In a recent study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, Dr. Susan Perlman and her colleagues investigated the development of prefrontal cortex function in children between the ages of 3 and 7 years old. Sixty-eight children participated in a novel spatial working memory task while their middle and lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) was monitored using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

The investigators found increased activation of the LPFC when comparing working memory to rest. Greater LPFC increase was noted for longer compared with shorter delay periods. The increase in LPFC activation, accuracy, and response speed were positively correlated with child age, suggesting that developmental changes in prefrontal function might underlie effective development of executive function in this age range.

Dr. Perlman’s findings are among the first to suggest that the LPFC develops functionally across the 3- to 7-year age range to enable processing of working memory, and make an important contribution to the understanding of functional development of the pre-frontal cortex.

Contributors:
Susan B. Perlman, PhD and Beatriz Luna, PhD (Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh)

Theodore J. Huppert, PhD (Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh)

This article appears in the journal Cerebral Cortex.  To view the abstract, click here.