In order to retain information in working memory (WM) during a delay, distracting stimuli must be ignored. This important ability improves during childhood, but the neural basis for this development is not known. We measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging in adults and 13-year-old children. Data were analyzed with an event-related design to isolate activity during cue, delay, distraction, and response selection. Adults were more accurate and less distractible than children. Activity in the middle frontal gyrus and intraparietal cortex was stronger in adults than in children during the delay, when information was maintained in WM. Distraction during the delay evoked activation in parietal and occipital cortices in both adults and children. However, distraction activated frontal cortex only in children. The larger frontal activation in response to distracters presented during the delay may explain why children are more susceptible to interfering stimuli.
"KAUST shall be a beacon for peace, hope and reconciliation, and shall serve the people of the Kingdom and the world."
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 1924 – 2015
Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia