Organization of high-level visual cortex in human infants

Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 10;8:13995. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13995.

Abstract

How much of the structure of the human mind and brain is already specified at birth, and how much arises from experience? In this article, we consider the test case of extrastriate visual cortex, where a highly systematic functional organization is present in virtually every normal adult, including regions preferring behaviourally significant stimulus categories, such as faces, bodies, and scenes. Novel methods were developed to scan awake infants with fMRI, while they viewed multiple categories of visual stimuli. Here we report that the visual cortex of 4-6-month-old infants contains regions that respond preferentially to abstract categories (faces and scenes), with a spatial organization similar to adults. However, precise response profiles and patterns of activity across multiple visual categories differ between infants and adults. These results demonstrate that the large-scale organization of category preferences in visual cortex is adult-like within a few months after birth, but is subsequently refined through development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*