A Lifespan Model of Interference Resolution and Inhibitory Control: Risk for Depression and Changes with Illness Progression

  • Katie L. Bessette
  • Aimee J. Karstens
  • Natania A. Crane
  • Amy T. Peters
  • Jonathan P. Stange
  • Kathleen H. Elverman
  • Sarah Shizuko Morimoto
  • Sara L. Weisenbach
  • Scott A. LangeneckerEmail author


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.


Inhibitory control Interference resolution Mood disorders Lifespan Development 



Brodmann’s Area


Bipolar Disorder


cognitive control network


Go/No-Go task

HPA axis

hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis


inhibitory control


inferior frontal gyrus


interference resolution


Major Depressive Disorder


prefrontal cortex


supplemental motor area


Stop-Signal Task



Work on this manuscript was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (T32 MH067631 to KLB and NAC; MH101487 to SAL, KLB, JPS, ATP, NAC), and the National Institute on Aging (T32 AG057468 to AJK).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie L. Bessette
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aimee J. Karstens
    • 1
  • Natania A. Crane
    • 1
  • Amy T. Peters
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jonathan P. Stange
    • 1
  • Kathleen H. Elverman
    • 5
  • Sarah Shizuko Morimoto
    • 2
  • Sara L. Weisenbach
    • 2
    • 6
  • Scott A. Langenecker
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Neuropsychology Center, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical CenterMilwaukeeUSA
  6. 6.Mental Health Services, VA Salt Lake CitySalt Lake CityUSA

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