Folding of the anterior cingulate cortex partially explains inhibitory control during childhood: a longitudinal study

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2014 Jul:9:126-35. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Feb 27.


Difficulties in cognitive control including inhibitory control (IC) are related to the pathophysiology of several psychiatric conditions. In healthy subjects, IC efficiency in childhood is a strong predictor of academic and professional successes later in life. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is one of the core structures responsible for IC. Although quantitative structural characteristics of the ACC contribute to IC efficiency, the qualitative structural brain characteristics contributing to IC development are less-understood. Using anatomical magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated whether the ACC sulcal pattern at age 5, a stable qualitative characteristic of the brain determined in utero, explains IC at age 9. 18 children performed Stroop tasks at age 5 and age 9. Children with asymmetrical ACC sulcal patterns (n=7) had better IC efficiency at age 5 and age 9 than children with symmetrical ACC sulcal patterns (n=11). The ACC sulcal patterns appear to affect specifically IC efficiency given that the ACC sulcal patterns had no effect on verbal working memory. Our study provides the first evidence that the ACC sulcal pattern - a qualitative structural characteristic of the brain not affected by maturation and learning after birth - partially explains IC efficiency during childhood.

Keywords: Anterior cingulate cortex; Brain imaging; Cognitive control; Inhibitory control; Stroop; Sulcal pattern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Language
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology