Dimensional Change Card Sort performance associated with age-related differences in functional connectivity of lateral prefrontal cortex
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
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The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) is a standard procedure for assessing executive functioning early in development. In the task, participants switch from sorting cards one way (e.g., by color) to sorting them a different way (e.g., by shape). Traditional accounts associate age-related changes in DCCS performance with circumscribed changes in lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) functioning, but evidence of age-related differences in the modulation of lPFC activity by switching is mixed. The current study therefore tested for possible age-related differences in functional connectivity of lPFC with regions that comprise a larger cognitive control network. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected from children and adults performing the DCCS were analyzed by means of independent components analysis (ICA). The analysis revealed several important age-related differences in functional connectivity of lPFC. In particular, lPFC was more strongly connected with the anterior cingulate, inferior parietal cortex, and the ventral tegmental area in adults than in children. Theoretical implications are discussed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.