Error-related electrocortical responses in 10-year-old children and young adults
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Recent anatomical and electrophysiological evidence suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is relatively late to mature. This brain region appears to be critical for monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting ongoing behaviors. This monitoring elicits characteristic ERP components including the error-related negativity (ERN), error positivity (Pe) and correct-related negativity (CRN), with the ERN clearly relating to activation of the ACC; however, little attention has been paid to the examination of these ERP components in children. The present study examined developmental differences in the ERN, Pe, and CRN in normal 10-year-old children and young adults in a standard visual flanker task. We found that children had smaller ERNs than adults, with no between-group differences on the Pe, and some ambiguity concerning the CRN. Results provide electrophysiological support either for late maturation of the ACC or late involvement of the ACC in response monitoring. Results also suggest that there is some functional independence of response-monitoring ERP components. Error-related ERPs may be a useful tool in studying the development of this brain region and its role in behavior in normal and atypical development.