Performance in eyeblink conditioning is age and sex dependent.
A growing body of evidence suggests that the cerebellum is involved in both cognition and language. Abnormal cerebellar development may contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, dyslexia, and specific language impairment. Performance in eyeblink conditioning, which depends on the cerebellum, can potentially be used to clarify the neural mechanisms underlying the cerebellar dysfunction in disorders like these. However, we must first understand how the performance develops in children who do not have a disorder. In this study we assessed the performance in eyeblink conditioning in 42 typically developing children between 6 and 11 years old as well as in 26 adults. Older children produced more conditioned eyeblink responses than younger children and adults produced more than children. In addition, females produced more conditioned eyeblink responses than males among both children and adults. These results highlight the importance of considering the influence of age and sex on the performance when studying eyeblink conditioning as a measure of cerebellar development.