Efficiency of Responding to Unexpected Information Varies with Sex, Age, and Pubertal Development in Early Adolescence

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Cognition, Children/infants, EEG/ERP

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Entry into adolescence is marked by dramatic changes resulting from a dynamic interplay among biological and psychosocial processes. Despite the complexity, development is often indexed only by age in event‐related potential (ERP) studies. To broaden this approach, we address the effects of gender and pubertal development, along with age, in adolescents using a psychophysiological probe of decision making, the P300 component. Overall, girls exhibited shorter P300 latencies and smaller P300 amplitudes compared to boys, suggesting more efficient information processing. In both genders, P300 latency and amplitude also diminished as age and pubertal status increased, again suggesting increasing efficiency of information processing with development. Our findings highlight the necessity of considering more than age when examining cognitive functioning in adolescents and, in particular, the necessity of considering gender whenever developmental issues are addressed.

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Psychophysiology, v. 49, issue 10, p 1330-1339