Myelination shapes functional activity in the developing brain

Neuroimage. 2007 Nov 15;38(3):511-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.07.010. Epub 2007 Jul 24.


In humans, the function of spatial integration (SI) develops slowly, continuing through childhood into adolescence. To reveal its neural substrate in children and to examine the role of myelination in shaping SI-dependent functional activity, we applied a combined fMRI/MTI technique capable of tracking functional (BOLD response) and morphological (myelination) signs of maturation. Fourteen children (age 7-13) were scanned while viewing bilateral gratings, which either obeyed Gestalt grouping rules or violated them. A contrast between these stimuli revealed the BOLD response presumably induced by interhemispheric SI. It was limited to a small ventral stream territory in the lingual gyrus that corresponds to the VP part of the SI-induced activation found in adults in VP/V4 areas. The BOLD response correlated with myelination of splenial fibers. The data suggest that the activation of the extrastriate areas that enable an SI function depends on the maturation of long-range cortico-cortical connections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Gyrus Cinguli / growth & development
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetics
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Reference Values