A lifespan model of interference resolution and inhibitory control: Risk for depression and changes with illness progression


Neuropsychology Center, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center


The cognitive processes involved in inhibitory control accuracy (IC) and interference resolution speed (IR) or broadly - inhibition - are discussed in this review, and both are described within the context of a lifespan model of mood disorders. Inhibitory control (IC) is a binary outcome (success or no for response selection and inhibition of unwanted responses) for any given event that is influenced to an extent by IR. IR refers to the process of inhibition, which can be manipulated by task design in earlier and later stages through use of distractors and timing, and manipulation of individual differences in response proclivity. We describe the development of these two processes across the lifespan, noting factors that influence this development (e.g., environment, adversity and stress) as well as inherent difficulties in assessing IC/IR prior to adulthood (e.g., cross-informant reports). We use mood disorders as an illustrative example of how this multidimensional construct can be informative to state, trait, vulnerability and neuroprogression of disease. We present aggregated data across numerous studies and methodologies to examine the lifelong development and degradation of this subconstruct of executive function, particularly in mood disorders. We highlight the challenges in identifying and measuring IC/IR in late life, including specificity to complex, comorbid disease processes. Finally, we discuss some potential avenues for treatment and accommodation of these difficulties across the lifespan, including newer treatments using cognitive remediation training and neuromodulation.

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