• Dynamic functional brain network connectivity during pseudoword processing relates to children’s reading skill

      Panda, Erin J.; Kember, Jonah; Emami, Zahra; Nayman, Candace; Valiante, Taufik A.; Pang, Elizabeth W. (Elsevier, 2022)
      Learning to read requires children to link print (orthography) with its corresponding speech sounds (phonology). Yet, most EEG studies of reading development focus on emerging functional specialization (e.g., developing increasingly refined orthographic representations), rather than directly measuring the functional connectivity that links orthography and phonology in real time. In this proof-of-concept study we relate children's reading skill to both orthographic specialization for print (via the N170, also called the N1, event related potential, ERP) and orthographic-phonological integration (via dynamic/event-related EEG phase synchronization – an index of functional brain network connectivity). Typically developing English speaking children (n = 24; 4–14 years) and control adults (n = 20; 18–35 years) viewed pseudowords, consonants and unfamiliar false fonts during a 1-back memory task while 64-channel EEG was recorded. Orthographic specialization (larger N170 for pseudowords vs. false fonts) became more left-lateralized with age, but not with reading skill. Conversely, children's reading skill correlated with functional brain network connectivity during pseudoword processing that requires orthography-phonology linking. This was seen during two periods of simultaneous low frequency synchronization/high frequency desynchronization of posterior-occipital brain network activity. Specifically, in stronger readers, left posterior-occipital activity showed more delta (1–3Hz) synchronization around 300–500 ms (simultaneous with gamma 30–80 Hz desynchronization) and more gamma desynchronization around 600–1000 ms (simultaneous with theta 3–7Hz synchronization) during pseudoword vs. false font processing. These effects were significant even when controlling for age (moderate – large effect sizes). Dynamic functional brain network connectivity measures the brain's real-time sound-print linking. It may offer an under-explored, yet sensitive, index of the neural plasticity associated with reading development. Reading requires us to link visual print with speech sound processing. Yet, most EEG reading research explores functional specialization not integration. While children's age relates to ERPs (N170) associated with print specialization. Children's reading skill relates to real-time functional brain network connectivity. EEG phase synchrony = sensitive index of functional integration during reading.
    • Emerging themes in the development of prospective memory during childhood

      Mahy, Caitlin; Kliegel, Matthias; Marcovitch, Stuart (Elsevier, 2014)
      Six years ago, Kvavilashvili, Kyle, and Messer (2008) called for more research in the area of chil dren’s prospective memory (PM), defined as the ability to remember to carry out delayed intentions (Einstein & McDaniel, 1990). At that time, the literature on PM in children was scant, although a few well-developed paradigms were available to measure PM in preschool-age children (Kvavilashvili, Messer, & Ebdon, 2001) and older children during middle childhood (Kerns, 2000). Although there is still much work to be done, the last few years have seen a steep rise in the number of studies on the topic of PM during childhood examining children as young as 2 years using a wide variety of time- and event-based PM paradigms. This recent increase in research activity in children’s PM was reflected in the high number of initial submissions for this special issue (20 manuscripts). The current special issue on the development of PM during childhood offers an overview of this burgeoning area of research, studying children from toddlerhood to adolescence, who are typically and atypically developing, using a wide variety of methods, including naturalistic tasks, experimental tasks, and parent report measures. In what follows, we first discuss the four sections of this special issue: PM research during early childhood, PM and episodic future thinking, PM in clinical populations, and PM during adolescence. We then highlight some emerging themes in this collection of articles that cut across these sections and highlight the contribution such topics will make to the field of PM.
    • The roles of perspective and language in children’s ability to delay gratification

      Mahy, Caitlin; Moses, Louis; O'Brien, Bronwyn; Castro, Alex W.; Kopp, Leia; Atance, Christina (Elsevier, 2020)
      We manipulated psychological distance in a delay of gratification paradigm. Younger children showed an other-over-self advantage but older children did not. Using “want” vs. “should” did not impact children’s delay of gratification. Increasing psychological distance is an established method for improving children’s performance in a number of self-regulation tasks. For example, using a delay of gratification (DoG) task, Prencipe and Zelazo (Psychological Science, 2005, Vol. 16, pp. 501–505) showed that 3-year-olds delay more for “other” than they do for “self,” whereas 4-year-olds make similar choices for self and other. However, to our knowledge, no work has manipulated language to increase psychological distance in children. In two experiments, we sought to manipulate psychological distance by replicating Prencipe and Zelazo’s age-related findings and extending them to older children (Experiment 1) and also sought to manipulate psychological distance using the auxiliary verbs “want” and “should” to prime more impulsive preference-based decisions or more normative optimal decisions (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, 96 3- to 7-year-olds showed age-related improvements and interactive effects between age and perspective on DoG performance. In Experiment 2, 132 3- to 7-year-olds showed age-related improvements and a marginal interaction between age and perspective on DoG performance, but no effect of auxiliary verbs was detected. Results are discussed in terms of differing developmental trajectories of DoG for self and other due to psychological distancing, and how taking another’s perspective may boost DoG in younger children but not older children.