We study the developmental trajectory of morphology and function of the superior temporal cortex (STC) in children (8-9 years), adolescents (14-15 years) and young adults. We analyze cortical surface landmarks and functional MRI (fMRI) responses to voices, other natural categories and tones and examine how hemispheric asymmetry and inter-subject variability change across age. Our results show stable morphological asymmetries across age groups, including a larger left planum temporale and a deeper right superior temporal sulcus. fMRI analyses show that a rightward lateralization for voice-selective responses is present in all groups but decreases with age. Furthermore, STC responses to voices change from being less selective and more spatially diffuse in children to highly selective and focal in adults. Interestingly, the analysis of morphological landmarks reveals that inter-subject variability increases during development in the right--but not in the left--STC. Similarly, inter-subject variability of cortically-realigned functional responses to voices, other categories and tones increases with age in the right STC. Our findings reveal asymmetric developmental changes in brain regions crucial for auditory and voice perception. The age-related increase of inter-subject variability in right STC suggests that anatomy and function of this region are shaped by unique individual developmental experiences.
Keywords: (f)MRI; Auditory cortex asymmetry; Development; Individual differences; Voice perception.