Joint attention (JA) is fundamental to the development of children's social functioning; both its response and initiation are closely related to executive function (EF), but the relationship between JA and EF has been relatively rarely studied. The present study aimed to investigate the between-condition differences in brain activation and synchronization of JA under four conditions: (1) stranger-Initiating Joint Attention (Stranger-IJA); (2) teacher-Initiating Joint Attention (Teacher-IJA); (3) stranger-Responding to Joint Attention (Stranger-RJA); and (4) teacher-Responding to Joint Attention (Teacher-RJA). It also aimed to explore the relationships between neuroimaging data and children's inhibitory control levels. To address these two goals, the present study employed 41 (aged 58.61 ± 8.64 months, 24 boys) preschool children through behavioral and functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) brain imaging assessment to measure children's EF and brain function under JA, respectively. The results revealed that: (1) a significantly higher prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation was triggered in IJA than RJA; (2) a significantly higher brain activation was triggered in JA with a stranger than with a teacher; (3) a significantly higher index of synchronization asymmetry was evoked in the left and right PFC during interaction with the teacher than with the stranger; and (4) preschoolers' brain activation and synchronization were correlated with their inhibitory control level. The findings advance our understanding of preschoolers' social cognitive development with a biological aspect, offer an opportunity to understand the potential risk of the neural disorder in preschoolers, and provide a basis and insight for preventing neural developmental disorders. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
CitationDing, K., Wang, H., Wang, Q., Li, H., & Li, C. (2023). Inhibitory control associated with the neural mechanism of joint attention in preschoolers: An fNIRS evidence. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 192, 53-61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2023.08.006
- Brain activation
- Brain synchronization
- Joint attention
- Inhibitory control