It’s a Matter of Time: Reframing the Development of Cognitive Control as a Modification of the Brain’s Temporal Dynamics
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
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Cognitive control is a process that unfolds over time and regulates thought and action in the service of achieving goals and managing unanticipated challenges. Prevailing accounts attribute the protracted development of this mental process to incremental changes in the functional organization of a cognitive control network. Here, we challenge the notion that cognitive control is linked to a topologically static network, and argue that the capacity to manage unanticipated challenges and its development should instead be characterized in terms of inter-regional functional coupling dynamics. Ongoing changes in temporal coupling have long represented a fundamental pillar in both empirical and theoretical-based accounts of brain function, but have been largely ignored by traditional neuroimaging methods that assume a fixed functional architecture. There is, however, a growing recognition of the importance of temporal coupling dynamics for brain function, and this has led to rapid innovations in analytic methods. Results in this new frontier of neuroimaging suggest that time-varying changes in connectivity strength and direction exist at the large scale and further, that network patterns, like cognitive control process themselves, are transient and dynamic.
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