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Informing the Structure of Executive Function in Children: A Meta-Analysis of Functional Neuroimaging Data

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The structure of executive function (EF) has been the focus of much debate for decades. What is more, the complexity and diversity provided by the developmental period only adds to this contention. The development of executive function plays an integral part in the expression of children's behavioral, cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities. Understanding how these processes are constructed during development allows for effective measurement of EF in this population. This meta-analysis aims to contribute to a better understanding of the structure of executive function in children. A coordinate-based meta-analysis was conducted (using BrainMap GingerALE 2.3), which incorporated studies administering functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during inhibition, switching, and working memory updating tasks in typical children (aged 6–18 years). The neural activation common across all executive tasks was compared to that shared by tasks pertaining only to inhibition, switching or updating, which are commonly considered to be fundamental executive processes. Results support the existence of partially separable but partially overlapping inhibition, switching, and updating executive processes at a neural level, in children over 6 years. Further, the shared neural activation across all tasks (associated with a proposed “unitary” component of executive function) overlapped to different degrees with the activation associated with each individual executive process. These findings provide evidence to support the suggestion that one of the most influential structural models of executive functioning in adults can also be applied to children of this age. However, the findings also call for careful consideration and measurement of both specific executive processes, and unitary executive function in this population. Furthermore, a need is highlighted for a new systematic developmental model, which captures the integrative nature of executive function in children.

No MeSH data available.


Common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating (x = 47, y = 13, z = 46). Significant conjunction and contrast analysis results for common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating. Regions of significant conjunction (eight clusters—red) and contrast (four clusters—blue) are displayed. The clusters indicating non-shared activation were found when the common executive (inhibit, switch) dataset was subtracted from the updating dataset.
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Figure 6: Common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating (x = 47, y = 13, z = 46). Significant conjunction and contrast analysis results for common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating. Regions of significant conjunction (eight clusters—red) and contrast (four clusters—blue) are displayed. The clusters indicating non-shared activation were found when the common executive (inhibit, switch) dataset was subtracted from the updating dataset.

Mentions: Examining the common executive component of updating, the second-level conjunction analysis produced 8 clusters in the whole sample (ranging between 40 and 2,576 mm3 in size). These mainly resided in the left and right superior frontal gyrus continuing to the medial frontal gyrus and extending to the right cingulum and right supplementary motor area, the left and right insula and the right inferior and superior parietal lobes (Figure 6 and Supplementary Materials Section E). The second-level conjunction analysis for the child group resulted in six clusters, residing bilaterally in the medial frontal gyrus, the right cingulate gyrus, claustrum, and right parietal areas (Supplementary Table F and Supplementary Figure 3).


Informing the Structure of Executive Function in Children: A Meta-Analysis of Functional Neuroimaging Data
Common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating (x = 47, y = 13, z = 46). Significant conjunction and contrast analysis results for common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating. Regions of significant conjunction (eight clusters—red) and contrast (four clusters—blue) are displayed. The clusters indicating non-shared activation were found when the common executive (inhibit, switch) dataset was subtracted from the updating dataset.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383671&req=5

Figure 6: Common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating (x = 47, y = 13, z = 46). Significant conjunction and contrast analysis results for common executive (inhibit, switch) and updating. Regions of significant conjunction (eight clusters—red) and contrast (four clusters—blue) are displayed. The clusters indicating non-shared activation were found when the common executive (inhibit, switch) dataset was subtracted from the updating dataset.
Mentions: Examining the common executive component of updating, the second-level conjunction analysis produced 8 clusters in the whole sample (ranging between 40 and 2,576 mm3 in size). These mainly resided in the left and right superior frontal gyrus continuing to the medial frontal gyrus and extending to the right cingulum and right supplementary motor area, the left and right insula and the right inferior and superior parietal lobes (Figure 6 and Supplementary Materials Section E). The second-level conjunction analysis for the child group resulted in six clusters, residing bilaterally in the medial frontal gyrus, the right cingulate gyrus, claustrum, and right parietal areas (Supplementary Table F and Supplementary Figure 3).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The structure of executive function (EF) has been the focus of much debate for decades. What is more, the complexity and diversity provided by the developmental period only adds to this contention. The development of executive function plays an integral part in the expression of children's behavioral, cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities. Understanding how these processes are constructed during development allows for effective measurement of EF in this population. This meta-analysis aims to contribute to a better understanding of the structure of executive function in children. A coordinate-based meta-analysis was conducted (using BrainMap GingerALE 2.3), which incorporated studies administering functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during inhibition, switching, and working memory updating tasks in typical children (aged 6–18 years). The neural activation common across all executive tasks was compared to that shared by tasks pertaining only to inhibition, switching or updating, which are commonly considered to be fundamental executive processes. Results support the existence of partially separable but partially overlapping inhibition, switching, and updating executive processes at a neural level, in children over 6 years. Further, the shared neural activation across all tasks (associated with a proposed “unitary” component of executive function) overlapped to different degrees with the activation associated with each individual executive process. These findings provide evidence to support the suggestion that one of the most influential structural models of executive functioning in adults can also be applied to children of this age. However, the findings also call for careful consideration and measurement of both specific executive processes, and unitary executive function in this population. Furthermore, a need is highlighted for a new systematic developmental model, which captures the integrative nature of executive function in children.

No MeSH data available.