Age-related changes in error processing in young children: A school-based investigation

Abstract Growth in executive functioning (EF) skills play a role children's academic success, and the transition to elementary school is an important time for the development of these abilities. Despite this, evidence concerning the development of the ERP components linked to EF, including the error-related negativity (ERN) and the error positivity (Pe), over this period is inconclusive. Data were recorded in a school setting from 3- to 7-year-old children (N = 96, mean age = 5 years 11 months) as they performed a Go/No-Go task. Results revealed the presence of the ERN and Pe on error relative to correct trials at all age levels. Older children showed increased response inhibition as evidenced by faster, more accurate responses. Although developmental changes in the ERN were not identified, the Pe increased with age. In addition, girls made fewer mistakes and showed elevated Pe amplitudes relative to boys. Based on a representative school-based sample, findings indicate that the ERN is present in children as young as 3, and that development can be seen in the Pe between ages 3 and 7. Results varied as a function of gender, providing insight into the range of factors associated with developmental changes in the complex relations between behavioral and electrophysiological measures of error processing. “