Development of Selection and Conflict Resolution

It is possible to view the previously mentioned studies as conflict situations in which habitual or endogenous tendencies compete for control of behavior. Throughout early childhood there is development in the ability to resolve such conflict and select among competing stimuli, stimulus properties, and responses. Several researchers have suggested that central to this achievement is the development of the ability to effectively inhibit stimuli or associations that are irrelevant to the task. Moreover, it has been suggested that such a development relies on maturation of the frontal lobes.

The Stroop task and its many variations have played a major part in the study of this development. For example, when preschool children are asked to say "day" to a picture of a moon and "night" to a picture of a sun, their accuracy is reduced relative to a neutral condition (e.g., responding "day" or "night" to a checkerboard). In addition, their accuracy decreases across the experimental session. Older children are able to maintain above-chance accuracy throughout a session. Similar trends have been found in latency of responding. Other conflict situations present similar results and document continued development of inhibitory function during childhood. For example, when Stroop color naming is examined across the school years, intrusion of the irrelevant word in place of the color name decreases in the incongruent or conflict condition, as does the impact of the irrelevant word on latency of correct responding.

Combining this evidence on conflict resolution with the evidence on stopping discussed previously suggests a general improvement in the ability to inhibit prepotent and automated responses from infancy to adulthood. This ability frees the system from stimulus-driven control, enabling strategic control and planning to play a more dominant part in behavior. Moreover, it seems that such development is dependent on high levels of cortical maturation. Other trends in development are consistent with this idea that inhibitory function depends on cortical input. One example is IOR, discussed earlier. The SC, which seems to be the generator of IOR, is already developed in infancy. However, there appears to be a need for the parietal lobes to provide this system with the spatial coordinates necessary for producing IOR. Although in some circumstances IOR can be observed even in infants only a few days old, the appearance of robust and widespread IOR in the eye movement patterns of infants awaits parietal development, rather than depending only on maturation of the SC.

Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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