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Keywords:

  • development;
  • imaging;
  • cognitive control;
  • genetics;
  • lesions

Abstract

The ability to suppress or override competing attentional and behavioral responses is a key component of cognitive processes. This ability continues to develop throughout childhood and appears to be disrupted in a number of childhood disorders (e.g., attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome). At least two brain regions have been implicated repeatedly in these disorders—the frontal lobes and the basal ganglia. The common problem in cognitive control and overlap in implicated brain regions across disorders suggest a single underlying biological mechanism. At the same time, the distinct symptomatology observed across these disorders suggests multiple mechanisms are at play. This article presents converging evidence from clinical, neuroimaging, lesion, and genetic studies to provide a mechanistic model of cognitive control whereby the basal ganglia are involved in inhibition of competing actions and the frontal cortex is involved in representing the relevant thoughts and guiding the appropriate behaviors. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 40: 237–254, 2002. DOI 10.1002/dev.10030