Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The ability to learn from environmental cues is an important contributor to successful performance in a variety of settings, including school. Despite the progress in unraveling the neural correlates of cognitive control in childhood and adolescence, relatively little is known about how these brain regions contribute to learning. In this study, 268 participants aged 8–25 years performed a rule-learning task with performance feedback in a 3T MRI scanner. We examined the development of the frontoparietal network during feedback learning by exploring contributions of age and pubertal development. The pFC showed more activation following negative compared with positive feedback with increasing age. In contrast, our data suggested that the parietal cortex demonstrated a shift from sensitivity to positive feedback in young children to negative feedback in adolescents and adults. These findings were interpreted in terms of separable contributions of the frontoparietal network in childhood to more integrated functions in adulthood. Puberty (testosterone, estradiol, and self-report) did not explain additional variance in neural activation patterns above age, suggesting that development of the frontoparietal network occurs relatively independently from hormonal development. This study presents novel insights into the development of learning, moving beyond a simple frontoparietal immaturity hypothesis.