Publications of Tucker, L.A.

Freeze-Frame: A new infant inhibition task and its relation to frontal cortex tasks during infancy and early childhood

The current study investigated a new, easily administered, visual inhibition task for infants termed the Freeze-Frame task. In the new task, 9-month-olds were encouraged to inhibit looks to peripheral distractors. This was done by briefly freezing a central animated stimulus when infants looked to the distractors. Half of the trials presented an engaging central stimulus, and the other half presented a repetitive central stimulus. Three measures of inhibitory function were derived from the task and compared with performance on a set of frontal cortex tasks administered at 9 and 24 months of age. As expected, infants' ability to learn to selectively inhibit looks to the distractors at 9 months predicted performance at 24 months. However, performance differences in the two Freeze-Frame trial types early in the experiment also turned out to be an important predictor. The results are discussed in terms of the validity of the Freeze-Frame task as an early measure of different components of inhibitory function. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The emergence of the social brain network: Evidence from typical and atypical development

Several research groups have identified a network of regions of the adult cortex that are activated during social perception and cognition tasks. In this paper we focus on the development of components of this social brain network during early childhood and test aspects of a particular viewpoint on human functional brain development: "interactive specialization." Specifically, we apply new data analysis techniques to a previously published data set of event-related potential (ERP) studies involving 3-, 4-, and 12-month-old infants viewing faces of different orientation and direction of eye gaze. Using source separation and localization methods, several likely generators of scalp recorded ERP are identified, and we describe how they are modulated by stimulus characteristics. We then review the results of a series of experiments concerned with perceiving and acting on eye gaze, before reporting on a new experiment involving young children with autism. Finally, we discuss predictions based on the atypical emergence of the social brain network.

Differential frontal cortex activation before anticipatory and reactive saccades in infants

Neural correlates of anticipatory and reactive saccades were studied in 4-month-old infants by recording high-density event-related potentials. Infants were presented with a fixed sequence of stimulus presentation to which they rapidly showed anticipatory saccades, as well as continuing with some reactive (stimulus-driven) saccades. As in a previous study, no clear evidence was found for adultlike, saccade-related potentials, although some presaccadic differences between reactive and anticipatory saccades were observed. Infants also showed different stimulus offset-related effects preceding the 2 types of trials with a right-frontal positivity when an anticipatory look follows, but only left-frontal positivity when a reactive saccade follows.

Recording and analyzing high-density event-related potentials with infants using the Geodesic sensor net

This article provides an overview of the use of the Geodesic sensor net system for high-density event-related potential (ERP) recording in infants. Some advantages and disadvantages of the system, as applied to infants, are discussed. First, we illustrate that high-density data can be recorded from infants at comparable quality to that observed with conventional (low density) ERP methods. Second, we discuss ways to utilize the greater spatial information available by applying source separation and localization procedures. In particular, we focus on the application of one recent source separation method, Independent Component Analysis (ICA). Finally, we show that source localization can be applied to infant high-density data, although this entails adopting a number of assumptions that remain to be verified. In the future, with improved source separation algorithms, we suggest that single-trial or single-subject analyses may become feasible.

Neural correlates of saccade planning in infants: A high-density ERP study

Neural correlates of saccade planning in B-month-old infants were investigated by high-density event-related potentials. Subjects made saccades to a target stimulus following a time gap from fixation stimulus offset (gap trials) or with the fixation stimulus still present (overlap trials). Like adults, infants were slower to make a saccade to the target when the fixation stimulus was still present. Strikingly, infants did not show clear evidence of the pre-saccadic components observed in adults which are thought to reflect cortical saccade planning processes. They did, however, show a left frontal positivity, which we suggest reflects cortical disinhibition of the colliculus initiated by fixation stimulus offset, and clear post-saccadic lambda waves. These results indicate that the frontal cortex already plays a role in action control by 6 months of age, while other aspects of cortical action planning may not yet be present in certain task situations.

Attention and oculomotor control: A high-density ERP study of the gap effect

In a gap paradigm, healthy adult subjects performed visually triggered saccades to peripheral targets either with the fixation stimulus remaining on (overlap trials) or going off before target onset (gap trials). All subjects showed faster reaction times in the gap trials (the gap effect). High density scalp event-related potentials were recorded time-locked to both the target stimuli and the eve movement onset. We observed three neural correlates of the gap effect: (i) a prefrontal positivity that precedes the target presentation which may reflect specific preparatory processes, (ii) an enhancement of the early cortical visual responses (P1) to the peripheral target in the gap trials, and (iii) a prolongation of parietal activity in the overlap trials relative to the gap trials prior to the saccade execution. These results suggest that several factors contribute to the gap effect, each having its own neural basis. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.