Reward-Modulated Response Inhibition, Cognitive Shifting, and the Orbital Frontal Cortex in Early Adolescence

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Immaturities in cognitive shifting are associated with adolescent risk behaviors. The orbital frontal cortex (OFC) regulates reward processing and response inhibition. This study tested the relationship between cognitive shifting, OFC activity, and reward-modulated response inhibition in young adolescents. An fMRI antisaccade (AS) paradigm examined the effects of reward conditions on inhibitory response and OFC processing. A validated self-report inventory assessed cognitive shifting. Compared with neutral, reward trials showed better AS performance and increased OFC activation. Cognitive shifting positively associated with AS performance in reward and neutral trials. Poorer cognitive shifting predicted greater OFC activation. Results indicate lower OFC efficiency, as greater activation to achieve correct performance, underlies cognitive shifting problems. These neurocognitive impairments are relevant for understanding adolescent risk behaviors.

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