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Article: Development of corticostriatal connectivity constrains goal-directed behavior during adolescence

Catherine Insel, Erik K. Kastman, Catherine R. Glenn & Leah H. Somerville When pursuing high-value goals, mature individuals typically titrate cognitive performance according to environmental demands. However, it remains unclear whether adolescents similarly integrate value-based goals to selectively enhance goal-directed behavior. We used a value-contingent cognitive control task during fMRI to assess how stakes—the value of a prospective outcome—modulate flexible goal-directed behavior and underlying neurocognitive processes. Here we demonstrate that while adults enhance performance during high stakes, adolescents perform similarly during low and high stakes conditions. The developmental emergence of value-contingent performance is mediated by connectivity between the striatum and prefrontal cortex; this connectivity selectively increases during high stakes and with age. These findings suggest that adolescents may not benefit from high stakes to the same degree adults do—a behavioral profile that may be constrained by ongoing maturation of corticostriatal connectivity. We propose that late development of corticostriatal connectivity sets the stage for optimal goal-directed behavior.

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