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Developmental change in intentional action and inhibition: A heart rate analysis

Authors

  • Margot A. Schel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), Leiden, The Netherlands
    • Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
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  • Dafna A. Windhorst,

    1. Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
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  • Maurits W. van der Molen,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Eveline A. Crone

    1. Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
    2. Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), Leiden, The Netherlands
    3. Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • The authors would like to thank Prof. Richard Jennings for helpful discussions about a previous version of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO, grant number 461-090525) as part of the EUROVETO project (09-ECRP-020) of the European Science Foundation.

Address correspondence to: Margot Schel, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK, Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail: mschel@fsw.leidenuniv.nl

Abstract

The ability to inhibit is a major developmental dimension. Previous studies examined developmental change in instructed inhibition. The current study, however, focused on intentional inhibition. We examined heart rate responses to intentional action and inhibition, with a focus on developmental differences. Three age groups (8–10, 11–12, and 18–26 years) performed a child-friendly marble paradigm in which they had to choose between intentionally acting on, or inhibiting, a prepotent response. As instructed, all age groups chose to intentionally inhibit on approximately 50 percent of the intentional trials. A pronounced heart rate deceleration was observed during both intentional action and intentional inhibition, but this deceleration was most pronounced for intentional inhibition. Heart rate responses did not differentiate between age groups, suggesting that intentional action and inhibition reach mature levels early in childhood.

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