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Buzell, G.A., Richards, J.E., White, L.K., Pine, D.S., & Fox, N.A. (2017). Development of the error-monitoring system from ages 9-35: unique insight provided by MRI-constrained source localization of EEG. Poster presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, CA, April, 2017.(pdf )

The ability to identify mistakes and dynamically adapt behavior is a cornerstone of higher-level cognition, requiring coordinated activity from a network of neural regions. However, a detailed account of how the error-monitoring system develops throughout adolescence and early adulthood remains absent from the literature. The present report leveraged MRI-constrained EEG source localization in order to detail the normative development of the error-monitoring system in a sample of 9-35 year-olds. In order to elicit errors, participants performed a flanker task while high-density EEG was recorded; structural MRIs were also acquired for all participants. Analysis of the scalp-recorded EEG data revealed a frontocentral negativity (error-related negativity; ERN) immediately following errors for all participants, although the topography of the ERN effect varied with age. Source localization of the ERN time range revealed maximal activity within the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) for all ages, consistent with recent evidence that the PCC provides a substantial contribution to the scalp-recorded ERN. Activity within a network of brain regions, including dorsal anterior cingulate, PCC, and parietal cortex, were predictive of improved performance following errors, regardless of age. However, additional activity within insula, orbiotfronal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus linearly increased with age. Together, these data suggest that the core error-monitoring system is online by early adolescence and remains relatively stable throughout adolescence and early adulthood. However, maturity leads to additional brain regions becoming embedded within this core network. These results can serve as a model of neurotypical development of the error-monitoring system throughout adolescence and early adulthood.