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Nat Neurosci. 2016 Sep;19(9):1250-5. doi: 10.1038/nn.4354. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Connectivity precedes function in the development of the visual word form area.

Author information

1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
2
McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
3
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
4
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.
5
Department of Biological Sciences, Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
6
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

What determines the cortical location at which a given functionally specific region will arise in development? We tested the hypothesis that functionally specific regions develop in their characteristic locations because of pre-existing differences in the extrinsic connectivity of that region to the rest of the brain. We exploited the visual word form area (VWFA) as a test case, scanning children with diffusion and functional imaging at age 5, before they learned to read, and at age 8, after they learned to read. We found the VWFA developed functionally in this interval and that its location in a particular child at age 8 could be predicted from that child's connectivity fingerprints (but not functional responses) at age 5. These results suggest that early connectivity instructs the functional development of the VWFA, possibly reflecting a general mechanism of cortical development.

Comment in

PMID:
27500407
PMCID:
PMC5003691
DOI:
10.1038/nn.4354
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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