May 18, 2021

Selective effects of biological and chronological age on the development of cognitive abilities in adolescence

<p>Adolescent development is not only shaped by the mere passing of time and accumulating experience, it also depends on pubertal timing and the cascade of maturational processes orchestrated by gonadal hormones. Although individual variability in puberty onset confounds adolescent studies, it has not been efficiently controlled for. Here we introduce ultrasonic bone age assessment to estimate biological maturity and disentangle the independent effects of chronological and biological age on adolescent cognitive abilities. Comparing cognitive performance of participants with different skeletal maturity we uncover the striking impact of biological age on both IQ and specific abilities. We find that biological age has a selective effect on abilities: more mature individuals within the same age group have higher working memory capacity and processing speed, while those with higher chronological age have better verbal abilities, independently of their maturity. Based on our findings, bone age is a promising biomarker for adolescent research.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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