Working memory function changes across development and varies across individuals. The patterns of behavior and brain function that track individual differences in working memory during human development, however, are not well understood. Here, we establish associations between working memory, other cognitive abilities, and functional MRI (fMRI) activation in data from over 11,500 9- to 10-year-old children (both sexes) enrolled in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, an ongoing longitudinal study in the United States. Behavioral analyses reveal robust relationships between working memory, short-term memory, language skills, and fluid intelligence. Analyses relating out-of-scanner working memory performance to memory-related fMRI activation in an emotional n-back task demonstrate that frontoparietal activity during a working memory challenge indexes working memory performance. This relationship is domain specific, such that fMRI activation related to emotion processing during the emotional n-back task, inhibitory control during a stop-signal task (SST), and reward processing during a monetary incentive delay (MID) task does not track memory abilities. Together, these results inform our understanding of individual differences in working memory in childhood and lay the groundwork for characterizing the ways in which they change across adolescence.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants U01 DA041174 (to B.J.C.), U01 DA041120 (to D.M.B.), U01 DA041148 (to D.A.F.), and U24 DA041123 (to B.J.C., M.D.C., D.J.H.) and by the National Science Foundation Grant 1714321 (to A.O.C.). The ABCD Study is supported by the NIH and additional federal partners Grants U01DA041022, U01DA041028, U01DA041048, U01DA041089, U01DA041106, U01DA041117, U01DA041120, U01DA041134, U01DA041148, U01DA041156, U01DA041174, U24DA041123, and U24DA041147. A full list of supporters is available at https://abcdstudy.org/federal-partners/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
- Working memory