Developmental differences in behavioral and event-related brain responses associated with response preparation and inhibition in a go/nogo task


  • Address reprint requests to: Dr. L. M. Jonkman, Universiteit Maastricht, Faculty of Psychology, Department of Neurocognition, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. E-mail:


The present study investigated developmental trends in response inhibition and preparation by studying behavior and event-related brain activity in a cued go/nogo task, administered to nine-year-old children and young adults. Hits, false alarms, inattention, and impulsivity scores and ERP measures of inhibition (fronto-central nogo-N2 and P3), target selection (parietal go-nogo P3 difference), and response preparation (contingent negative variation; CNV) were collected. Higher false alarm and impulsivity scores and the absence of the fronto-central nogo P3 all suggest a developmental lag in response inhibition in children. A developmental lag in sustained attention processes was suggested by worse target detection and larger parietal target/nontarget P3 effects in children. Cue orientation and response preparation processes were respectively measured by early and late CNV activity. Children displayed smaller early CNV amplitudes at fronto-central locations, but mature late CNV. The smaller early CNV activity might indicate inefficient cue-orientation processes caused by incomplete frontal lobe development.