Neural Substrates of Inhibitory Control Maturation in Adolescence

Trends Neurosci. 2019 Sep;42(9):604-616. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2019.07.004. Epub 2019 Aug 20.


Inhibitory control matures through adolescence and into early adulthood, impacting decision-making. Impairments in inhibitory control are associated with various psychopathologies, many of which emerge during adolescence. In this review, we examine the neural basis of developmental improvements in inhibitory control by integrating findings from humans and non-human primates, identifying the structural and functional specialization of executive brain systems that mediates cognitive maturation. Behavioral manifestations of response inhibition suggest that adolescents are capable of producing adult level responses on occasion, but lack the ability to engage systems mediating response inhibition in a consistent fashion. Maturation is associated with changes in structural anatomy as well as local and systems-level connectivity. Functional changes revealed by neuroimaging and neurophysiology indicate that maturation of inhibitory control is achieved through improvements in response preparation, error processing, and planned responses.

Keywords: antisaccade; development; executive function; fMRI; neurophysiology; prefrontal; response inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Synaptic Transmission* / physiology