- Strategies influence neural activity for feedback learning across child and adolescent development
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Learning from feedback is an important aspect of executive functioning that shows profound improvements during childhood and adolescence. This is accompanied by neural changes in the feedback-learning network, which includes pre-supplementary motor area (pre- SMA)/anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), superior parietal cortex (SPC), and the basal ganglia. However, there can be considerable differences within age ranges in performance that are ascribed to differences in strategy use. This is problematic for traditional approaches of analyzing developmental data, in which age groups are assumed to be homogenous in strategy use. In this study, we used latent variable models to investigate if underlying strategy groups could be detected for a feedback-learning task and whether there were differences in neural activation patterns between strategies. In a sample of 268 participants between ages 8 to 25 years, we observed four underlying strategy groups, which were cut across age groups and varied in the optimality of executive functioning. These strategy groups also differed in neural activity during learning; especially the most optimal performing group showed more activity in DLPFC, SPC and pre-SMA/ACC compared to the other groups. However, age differences remained an important contributor to neural activation, even when correcting for strategy. These findings contribute to the debate of age versus performance predictors of neural development, and highlight the importance of studying individual differences in strategy use when studying development.
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