Maturation of Cognitive Processes From Late Childhood to Adulthood


  • We give special thanks to Melanie Wilds and Steve Hegedus who tested participants and assisted in data scoring, to all participants of this study, and to support from the following grants: MH01727, NARSAD, MH62134, HD35469, MH01433.

concerning this article should be addressed to Beatriz Luna, Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, 3501 Forbes Avenue, Oxford Building Room 738, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Electronic mail may be sent to


To characterize cognitive maturation through adolescence, processing speed, voluntary response suppression, and spatial working memory were measured in 8- to 30-year-old (N=245) healthy participants using oculomotor tasks. Development progressed with a steep initial improvement in performance followed by stabilization in adolescence. Adult-level mature performance began at approximately 15, 14, and 19 years of age for processing speed, response inhibition, and working memory, respectively. Although processes developed independently, processing speed influenced the development of working memory whereas the development of response suppression and working memory were interdependent. These results indicate that processing speed, voluntary response suppression, and working memory mature through late childhood and into adolescence. How brain maturation specific to adolescence may support cognitive maturation is discussed.