Child sex differences in the auditory equiprobable Go/NoGo task

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International Journal of Psychophysiology


Our previous studies of the equiprobable auditory Go/NoGo task have been used to substantiate a perceptual/cognitive Processing Schema in young and older adults, and in children. The processes in the Schema are linked to PCA components derived separately from Go and NoGo ERPs. Here we investigated sex differences in the child Schema. Two groups of fourteen children (aged 8 to 13 years) were individually matched on age and presented with four stimulus blocks of the equiprobable Go/NoGo task, each containing 75 NoGo and 75 Go tones in random order. Separate NoGo and Go ERPs were obtained from each child and submitted to temporal Principal Components Analyses (PCAs). Each ERP was analysed in two epochs (−100–400 ms and 300–800 ms) to improve the cases:variables ratio. Four pairs of temporal PCAs, each with unrestricted VARIMAX rotation, separately quantified the NoGo and Go ERPs of each epoch in each group. After these pairs were combined in temporal order, four sets of similar components were extracted. Many identified components were differentially enhanced to either NoGo or Go, as in previous work with children. The Female group had NoGo component latencies that were systematically some 3.5% greater than in Males, but there were no sex differences in Go latencies. Females also displayed fewer NoGo commission and Go omission errors, and faster Go RT than Males. Females had larger NoGo N2b, and larger Go components from N2b through to the late positivity. These results, including their ERP component/behaviour correlations, can be integrated as a task-specific behavioural and ERP processing enhancement in girls that suggests their developmental advantage over boys in this age range.



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