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Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2011 Jul;1(3):313-23. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2011.02.004.

fMRI of syntactic processing in typically developing children: structural correlates in the inferior frontal gyrus.

Author information

1
Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1769, USA.

Abstract

Development of syntactic processing was examined to evaluate maturational processes including left language lateralization functions and increased specialization of brain regions important for syntactic processing. We utilized multimodal methods, including indices of brain activity from fMRI during a syntactic processing task, cortical thickness measurements from structural MRI, and neuropsychological measures. To evaluate hypotheses about increasing lateralization and specialization with development, we examined relationships between cortical thickness and magnitude and spatial activation extent within the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and its right hemisphere homologue. We predicted that increased activation in the left and decreased activation in the right IFG would be associated with increased syntactic proficiency. As predicted, a more mature pattern of increased thickness in the right pars triangularis was associated with decreased activation intensity and extent in the right IFG. These findings suggest a maturational shift towards decreased involvement of the right IFG for syntactic processing. Better syntactic skills were associated with increased activation in the left IFG independent from age, suggesting increased specialization of the left IFG with increased proficiency. Overall, our findings show relationships between structural and functional neurodevelopment that co-occur with improved syntactic processing in critical language regions of the IFG in typically developing children.

KEYWORDS:

Syntax; fMRI; language; lateralization; multimodal; typical development

PMID:
21743820
PMCID:
PMC3129989
DOI:
10.1016/j.dcn.2011.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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