Developmental change in EEG theta activity in the medial prefrontal cortex during response control. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cognitive control functions continue to improve from infancy until early adulthood, allowing flexible adaptation to a complex environment. However, it remains controversial how this development in cognitive capabilities is mediated by changes in cortical activity: both age-related increases and decreases of mediofrontal neural activity have been observed and interpreted as neural underpinnings of this functional development. To better understand this developmental process, we examined EEG theta activity in the mediofrontal region using a Go/No-go response control task. We found that both pre-stimulus baseline theta-power and theta-power during the response control task, without baseline-correction, decreased with age. Conversely, when task-related theta-power was baseline corrected (using a ratio method), it exhibited a positive developmental trajectory. The age-related theta-power increase was source-localized to the anterior cingulate cortex. This increase in theta activity also partially mediated age-related improvements in response control and was greatest in a condition that demanded greater effort. Theta activity in older children also showed greater temporal reliability across trials as measured by inter-trial phase-coherence. Interestingly, directly subtracting baseline activity from task-related activity did not yield significant developmental effects, which highlights the necessity of separating and contrasting the pre-stimulus baseline with task-related processing in the understanding of neurodevelopmental changes.

published proceedings

  • Neuroimage

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, Z., Woltering, S., & Lewis, M. D.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Zhong-Xu||Woltering, Steven||Lewis, Marc D

publication date

  • January 2014