Posterior P1 and early frontal negativity reflect developmental changes in attentional distraction during adolescence

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Previous studies in adults have revealed that attentional distraction modulates the late positive potential (LPP) during emotion regulation. To determine whether early visual components reflect developmental changes in attentional distraction during adolescence, we collected event-related potentials from 20 young adolescents, 18 older adolescents, and 18 young adults as they performed a distraction task (counting) while viewing affective images. Consistent with previous findings obtained in distraction studies, the distraction task (counting) reduced emotional modulation of the LPP. At an early stage of processing, counting reduced emotional modulation of P1 and increased the negativity bias of early frontal negativity (eFN) for negatively valenced pictures compared to simple viewing with no distraction. sLORETA analyses further revealed eFN indexing of rostral prefrontal cortical activation, a cortical area that has been shown in recent fMRI studies to be activated by distraction. Moreover, P1 amplitudes in young and older adolescents did not differ but were both larger than the P1s in young adults. In addition, eFN amplitudes significantly decreased with age. The dissociable distraction patterns between the posterior P1 and eFN provide evidence not only for the timing hypothesis of emotion regulation but also for different developmental trajectories of visual processing areas and the prefrontal cortex during affective processing in adolescence.

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