Neural oscillations underlying selective attention follow sexually divergent developmental trajectories during adolescence

Brittany K. Taylor, Jacob A. Eastman, Michaela R. Frenzel, Christine M. Embury, Yu Ping Wang, Vince D. Calhoun, Julia M. Stephen, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Selective attention processes are critical to everyday functioning and are known to develop through at least young adulthood. Although numerous investigations have studied the maturation of attention systems in the brain, these studies have largely focused on the spatial configuration of these systems; there is a paucity of research on the neural oscillatory dynamics serving selective attention, particularly among youth. Herein, we examined the developmental trajectory of neural oscillatory activity serving selective attention in 53 typically developing youth age 9-to-16 years-old. Participants completed the classic arrow-based flanker task during magnetoencephalography, and the resulting data were imaged in the time-frequency domain. Flanker interference significantly modulated theta and alpha/beta oscillations within prefrontal, mid-cingulate, cuneus, and occipital regions. Interference-related neural activity also increased with age in the temporoparietal junction and the rostral anterior cingulate. Sex-specific effects indicated that females had greater theta interference activity in the anterior insula, whereas males showed differential effects in theta and alpha/beta oscillations across frontoparietal regions. Finally, males showed age-related changes in alpha/beta interference in the cuneus and middle frontal gyrus, which predicted improved behavioral performance. Taken together, these data suggest sexually-divergent developmental trajectories underlying selective attention in youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100961
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Development
  • Flanker effect
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Oscillations
  • Sex effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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