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Dev Neuropsychol. 2000;18(2):139-69.

Developmental and lesion effects in brain activation during sentence comprehension and mental rotation.

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Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, 2299 North Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208-3560, USA.


The development of neurocognitive networks was examined in 2 cognitive paradigms: auditory sentence comprehension and mental rotation of alphanumeric stimuli. Patterns of brain activation were measured with whole brain echoplanar functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 Tesla in 5 adults (20-28 years old), 7 children (9-12 years old), and 6 pediatric patients (9-12 years old) with perinatal strokes or periventricular hemorrhages. Healthy children and adults activated similar neurocognitive networks, but there were developmental differences in the distribution of activity across these networks. In the sentence task, children showed more activation in the inferior visual area suggesting an imagery strategy rather than a linguistic strategy for sentence processing. Furthermore, consistent use of a sentence comprehension strategy, whether correct or incorrect as compared to chance performance, was associated with greater activation in the inferior frontal area (Broca's) in both children and pediatric patients. In the mental rotation task, healthy adults showed more activation in the superior parietal and middle frontal areas and less activation in the supramarginal gyrus, suggesting adults were primarily engaged in visual-spatial manipulation and less engaged in the recognition of noncanonical views of stimuli. The pediatric patients showed patterns of activation consistent with organization of cognitive processing into homologous areas of the contralateral hemisphere.

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