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Neuroimage. 2011 Aug 1;57(3):659-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

Dorsal and ventral stream activation and object recognition performance in school-age children.

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Birkbeck College, University of London, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Malet Street, London, UK.


We explored how developing neural artifact and animal representations in the dorsal and ventral stream play a role in children's increasingly more proficient interactions with objects. In thirty-three 6- to 10-year-old children and 11 adults, we used fMRI to track the development of (1) the cortical category preference for tools compared to animals and (2) the response to complex objects (as compared to scrambled objects) during a passive viewing task. In addition, we related a cognitive skill that improved substantially from age 6 to 10, namely the ability to recognize tools from unusual viewpoints, to the development of cortical object processing. In multiple complementary analyses we showed that those children who were better at recognizing tools from unusual viewpoints outside the scanner showed a reduced cortical response to tools and animals when viewed inside the scanner, bilaterally in intraparietal and inferotemporal cortex. In contrast, the cortical preference for tools in the dorsal and ventral visual stream did not predict object recognition performance, and was organized in an adult-like manner at six. While cortical tool preference did not change with age, the findings suggest that animal-preferring regions in the ventral visual stream may develop later, concordant with previous reports of a protracted development in similar regions for faces. We thus conclude that intraparietal and inferotemporal cortical networks that support aspects of object processing irrespective of tool or animal category, continue to develop during the school-age years and contribute to the development of object recognition skills during this period.

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