Using EEG to examine inhibitory abilities in children: The effects of time pressure, physical activity, and emotion

  • Author / Creator
    Abdul Rahman, Siti Aishah
  • The ability to inhibit inappropriate actions and irrelevant information is crucial for adaptive functioning. Inhibitory skills emerge early in life, with significant growth occurring during the period of early and middle childhood. The objective of this dissertation was to utilize electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the neural correlates underlying inhibitory abilities in children. In the three different studies that comprise this dissertation, I investigated how inhibitory performance and the neural correlates underlying inhibitory performance were modulated by three different factors. In the first study, I examined the effect of inducing time pressure on inhibitory performance in children and how this was reflected in the neural correlates. Children’s response execution performance was impaired under time pressure, suggesting that the time pressure manipulation may have caused children to adopt a cautious response strategy. Further, the topography of the event-related potentials (ERPs) underlying inhibitory performance, the N2 and the P3, were different in children from that reported in the adult literature. In the second study, I investigated the association between physical activity and response inhibition in early childhood. Physical activity was not associated with behavioural performance on the GNG task. However, the P3 on No-go trials occurred earlier in children who had greater parent-reported participation in non-organized activities, indicating faster and more efficient evaluation and activation of inhibitory processes. The findings from this study also highlight the importance of considering the types of physical activities that children engage in when examining the effects of physical activity in early childhood. In the third study, I examined how emotions affect cognitive performance in early and middle childhood, and whether this effect varied as a function of the valence of the emotion and the cognitive demands of the task. The effect of emotions on cognitive performance was contingent on the valence of the emotion, but this effect did not vary across cognitive control demands in children. Stimuli with negatively valenced, angry emotion elicited a longer N2 latency in children relative to positively valenced, happy emotion and neutral stimuli. The effect of negatively valenced emotion lasted longer in younger children who showed a more pronounced late frontal negativity ERP component. The findings from all three studies broaden our understanding on how inhibitory performance and the underlying neural correlates are modulated by these three different factors. Across the three studies, the results indicate differences in the neural correlates underlying inhibitory abilities in children. The findings from these studies may potentially be applied in both clinical and educational settings to improve behavioural and learning outcomes in children.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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