The changing landscape of functional brain networks for face processing in typical development

Neuroimage. 2012 Nov 15;63(3):1223-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.08.021. Epub 2012 Aug 11.


Greater expertise for faces in adults than in children may be achieved by a dynamic interplay of functional segregation and integration of brain regions throughout development. The present study examined developmental changes in face network functional connectivity in children (5-12 years) and adults (18-43 years) during face-viewing using a graph-theory approach. A face-specific developmental change involved connectivity of the right occipital face area. During childhood, this node increased in strength and within-module clustering based on positive connectivity. These changes reflect an important role of the ROFA in segregation of function during childhood. In addition, strength and diversity of connections within a module that included primary visual areas (left and right calcarine) and limbic regions (left hippocampus and right inferior orbitofrontal cortex) increased from childhood to adulthood, reflecting increased visuo-limbic integration. This integration was pronounced for faces but also emerged for natural objects. Taken together, the primary face-specific developmental changes involved segregation of a posterior visual module during childhood, possibly implicated in early stage perceptual face processing, and greater integration of visuo-limbic connections from childhood to adulthood, which may reflect processing related to development of perceptual expertise for individuation of faces and other visually homogenous categories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Young Adult