Although there is great interest in identifying the neural correlates of cognitive processes that create risk for psychopathology, there is a paucity of research in young children. One event-related potential (ERP), the N2, is thought to index conflict monitoring and has been linked cognitive and affective risk factors for anxiety. Most of this research, however, has been conducted with adults, adolescents, and older children, but not with younger children. To address this gap, the current study examined 26 4-8-year-olds, who completed a cued flanker task while EEG was continuously recorded. We assessed whether the N2 was detectable in this group of young children and examined associations between the N2 and factors reflecting affective risk (e.g., reduced executive attention, temperamental effortful control, and temperamental surgency). We documented an N2 effect (greater N2 amplitude to incongruent versus congruent flankers), but only in children older than 6 years of age. Increases in the N2 effect were associated with less efficient executive attention and lower temperamental effortful control. We discuss the implications of these findings and consider how they may inform future studies on biomarkers for cognitive and affective risk factors for anxiety.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience