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Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior$
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Silvia A. Bunge and Jonathan D. Wallis

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195314274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314274.001.0001

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 The Development of Rule Use in Childhood

 The Development of Rule Use in Childhood

(p.441) 19 The Development of Rule Use in Childhood
Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior

Philip David Zelazo

Oxford University Press

The ability to follow explicit rules improves dramatically during the course of childhood, and this improvement depends, in part, on a growing ability to formulate and use increasingly complex systems of rules. Relatively little is known, however, about the changes in brain structure and function that underlie these cognitive changes. Drawing from neuroscientific studies in human adults and other animals, as well as an emerging literature in developmental cognitive neuroscience, this chapter proposes a brain‐based account of the development of rule use in childhood. This account focuses on four types of rules represented in different parts of prefrontal cortex (PFC). It is hypothesized that the pattern of developmental changes in rule use reflects the different rates of development of specific regions within PFC. According to this account, lateral PFC‐mediated reprocessing allows one to reflect on relatively simple rules (i.e. at a higher level of consciousness) and formulate higher‐order rules that control the application of these simpler rules. As individuals engage in recursive reprocessing, ascend through levels of consciousness, and formulate more complex rule systems, they recruit an increasingly complex hierarchical network of PFC regions.

Keywords:   development, level of consciousness, hierarchical network, prefrontal cortex

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