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Dynamics of prefrontal cortical activity during learning of cognitive tasks and development

By Christos Constantinidis, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Cognitive functions such as working memory and response inhibition mature relatively late in life, in adolescence or early adulthood, and may be enhanced even in adulthood through cognitive training. To address the changes in prefrontal cortical activity associated with cognitive development, my laboratory has performed a series of experiments recording neuronal activity in adolescent and adult monkeys, as well as before and after training on working memory tasks. We found changes in the proportion of prefrontal neurons recruited during cognitive function, degree of activation, selectivity for stimuli, nature of task information encoded in neural activity, variability of individual responses and correlation between simultaneously recorded neurons. These results reveal the nature of changes in neural activity dynamics that underlie cognitive enhancement in development and as a result of task training.