The capacity to anticipate and prepare for future events is thought to be critical for cognitive control. Dominant accounts of cognitive control treat the developing system as merely a weaker version of the adult system, progressively strengthening over time. Using the AX Continuous Performance Task (AX-CPT) in combination with high-resolution pupillometry, we find that whereas 8-year-old children resemble adults in their proactive use of cognitive control, 3.5-year-old children exhibit a qualitatively different, reactive form of cognitive control, responding to events only as they unfold and retrieving information from memory as needed in the moment. These results demonstrate the need to reconsider the origins of cognitive control and the basis for children's behaviors across domains
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