1. Neuroscience
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The expression of established cognitive brain states stabilizes with working memory development

  1. David Florentino Montez  Is a corresponding author
  2. Finnegan J Calabro
  3. Beatriz Luna
  1. University of Pittsburgh, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 14
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e25606 doi: 10.7554/eLife.25606


We present results from a longitudinal study conducted over 10 years in a sample of 126 8-33 year olds demonstrating that adolescent development of working memory is supported by decreased variability in the amplitude of expression of whole brain states of task-related activity. fMRI analyses reveal that putative gain signals affecting maintenance and retrieval aspects of working memory processing stabilize during adolescence, while those affecting sensorimotor processes do not. We show that trial-to-trial variability in the reaction time and accuracy of eye-movements during a memory guided saccade task are related to fluctuations in the amplitude of expression of task-related brain states, or brain state variability, and also provide evidence that individual developmental trajectories of reaction time variability are related to individual trajectories of brain state variability. These observations demonstrate that underlying the maturation of cognition through adolescence is the stabilization of widespread gain signals affecting already available cognitive processes.

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Author details

  1. David Florentino Montez

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1672-8218
  2. Finnegan J Calabro

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Beatriz Luna

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


National Institutes of Health (5R01MH067924)

  • David Florentino Montez
  • Finnegan J Calabro
  • Beatriz Luna

Staunton Farm Foundation

  • Finnegan J Calabro
  • Beatriz Luna

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: Participants and/or their legal guardians provided informed consent before participating in this study. Experimental procedures for this study complied with the Code of Ethics of the World Medical Association (1964; Declaration of Helsinki) and the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pittsburgh. Subjects were paid for their participation in the study.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Sabine Kastner, Princeton University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: January 31, 2017
  2. Accepted: August 3, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 19, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 31, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Montez et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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