The prefrontal cortex, the brain area associated with higher cognitive operations such as working memory and executive function, undergoes a protracted period of development. How the activity of prefrontal neurons changes during peri- and postpubertal cortical maturation is largely unknown. To address this question, …(the authors) recorded neuronal activity from the prefrontal cortex of peripubertal and adult monkeys and compared the functional connectivity between pairs of neurons in each group. The magnitude of connectivity measured between neurons was lower overall in the prefrontal cortex of peripubertal monkeys compared with adults, as inhibitory interactions were generally stronger in young animals. …(These) results identify changes in intrinsic connectivity between prefrontal neurons as a possible substrate for peri- and postpubertal cognitive maturation.

Zhou X, Zhu D, Katsuki F, Qi X-L, Lees CJ, Bennett AJ, Salinas E, Stanford TR and Constantinidis C: Age-dependent changes in prefrontal intrinsic connectivity. PNAS [Epub ahead of print Feb.24, 2014;  doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316594111 ].


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