Sex-dependent age modulation of frontostriatal and temporo-parietal activation during cognitive control

Neuroimage. 2009 Oct 15;48(1):223-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.06.070. Epub 2009 Jul 4.


Developmental functional imaging studies of cognitive control show progressive age-related increase in task-relevant fronto-striatal activation in male development from childhood to adulthood. Little is known, however, about how gender affects this functional development. In this study, we used event related functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine effects of sex, age, and their interaction on brain activation during attentional switching and interference inhibition, in 63 male and female adolescents and adults, aged 13 to 38. Linear age correlations were observed across all subjects in task-specific frontal, striatal and temporo-parietal activation. Gender analysis revealed increased activation in females relative to males in fronto-striatal areas during the Switch task, and laterality effects in the Simon task, with females showing increased left inferior prefrontal and temporal activation, and males showing increased right inferior prefrontal and parietal activation. Increased prefrontal activation clusters in females and increased parietal activation clusters in males furthermore overlapped with clusters that were age-correlated across the whole group, potentially reflecting more mature prefrontal brain activation patterns for females, and more mature parietal activation patterns for males. Gender by age interactions further supported this dissociation, revealing exclusive female-specific age correlations in inferior and medial prefrontal brain regions during both tasks, and exclusive male-specific age correlations in superior parietal (Switch task) and temporal regions (Simon task). These findings show increased recruitment of age-correlated prefrontal activation in females, and of age-correlated parietal activation in males, during tasks of cognitive control. Gender differences in frontal and parietal recruitment may thus be related to gender differences in the neurofunctional maturation of these brain regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Young Adult