Cortical and cognitive development in 4th, 8th and 12th grade students. The contribution of speed of processing and executive functioning to cognitive development

Biol Psychol. 1998 May;48(1):37-56. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0511(98)00005-2.


This study investigated cortical/cognitive relations in 30 4th, 8th and 12th grade students. All students were administered the Figural Intersection Test, a measure of cognitive development, and performed, three times with different targets, an event-related potential (ERP) oddball/selective-attention task. Two independent factors emerged from the ERP task that predicted development--speed of processing (P300 latency to Block 1 targets) and maturation of executive functioning (a composite ERP variable calculated as the ratio of RT and P300 latency divided by the accuracy to Block 2 targets). These two variables loaded on orthogonal factors in a principal components analysis, and were the only variables included in a stepwise regression of physiological variables on cognitive development. Speed of processing is modulated by myelination and synaptogenesis, and executive functioning is modulated by maturation of the frontal system. These electrophysiological markers could index these cortical transformations underlying cognitive development.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time / physiology