The capacity to suppress inappropriate thoughts, emotions and actions in favor of appropriate ones shows marked changes throughout childhood and adolescence. Most research has focused on pre-frontal circuit development to explain these changes. Yet, subcortical circuitry involving the amygdala and ventral striatum (VS) has been shown to modulate cue-triggered motivated behaviors in rodents. The nature of the interaction between these two subcortical regions in humans is less well understood, especially during development when there appears to be heightened sensitivity to emotional cues. In the current study, we tested how task-based cortico-subcortical and subcortico-subcortical functional connectivity in 155 participants ages from 5 to 32 impacted cognitive control performance on an emotional go/nogo task. Functional connectivity between the amygdala and VS was inversely correlated with age and predicted cognitive control to emotional cues, when controlling for performance to neutral cues. In contrast, increased medial pre-frontal-amygdala connectivity was associated with better cognitive control to emotional cues and this cortical-subcortical connectivity mediated the association between amygdala-VS connectivity and emotional cognitive control. These findings suggest a dissociation in how subcortical-subcortical and cortical-subcortical connectivity impact cognitive control across development.
Changes in Cortico-Subcortical & Subcortico-Subcortical Connectivity Impact Cognitive Control to Emotional Cues Across Development