Hyperdirect insula-basal-ganglia pathway and adult-like maturity of global brain responses predict inhibitory control in children

Nat Commun. 2019 Oct 22;10(1):4798. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12756-8.


Inhibitory control is fundamental to children's self-regulation and cognitive development. Here we investigate cortical-basal ganglia pathways underlying inhibitory control in children and their adult-like maturity. We first conduct a comprehensive meta-analysis of extant neurodevelopmental studies of inhibitory control and highlight important gaps in the literature. Second, we examine cortical-basal ganglia activation during inhibitory control in children ages 9-12 and demonstrate the formation of an adult-like inhibitory control network by late childhood. Third, we develop a neural maturation index (NMI), which assesses the similarity of brain activation patterns between children and adults, and demonstrate that higher NMI in children predicts better inhibitory control. Fourth, we show that activity in the subthalamic nucleus and its effective connectivity with the right anterior insula predicts children's inhibitory control. Fifth, we replicate our findings across multiple cohorts. Our findings provide insights into cortical-basal ganglia circuits and global brain organization underlying the development of inhibitory control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Child
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology
  • Young Adult