Does prefrontal connectivity during task switching help or hinder children’s performance?
Schwarze, S. A., Laube, C., Khosravani, N., Lindenberger, U., Bunge, S. A., & Fandakova, Y. (2023). Does prefrontal connectivity during task switching help or hinder children’s performance? Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 60, Article 101217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2023.101217
The ability to flexibly switch from one task to another, which is crucial for goal-directed behavior, is known to increase during middle childhood. In adults, switching ability has been associated with specific frontal and parietal brain regions, which also mature in childhood and adolescence. We investigated whether switch-related activation patterns are different in 8- to 11-year-old children compared to young adults. We found that regions known to be activated during task switching in adults were less active in children. At the same time, children showed greater switch-related functional connectivity to additional prefrontal regions. Importantly, children with less adult-like activation patterns and increased functional connectivity showed better task-switching performance than children with more adult-like activation patterns. We suggest that some children might efficiently manage task switching demands with a functional neural network that differs from the one observed in adults.