August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Connectivity precedes function in the development of the visual word form area
Author Affiliations
  • Nancy Kanwisher
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • David Osher
    Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Boston University
  • Elizabeth Norton
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Deanna Youssoufian
    Dept. of Biological Sciences, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Sara Beach
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jenelle Feather
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • John Gabrieli
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Zeynep Saygin
    Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 205. doi:10.1167/16.12.205
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      Nancy Kanwisher, David Osher, Elizabeth Norton, Deanna Youssoufian, Sara Beach, Jenelle Feather, John Gabrieli, Zeynep Saygin; Connectivity precedes function in the development of the visual word form area. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):205. doi: 10.1167/16.12.205.

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      © 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

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Abstract

What determines the cortical location where a given functionally specific region will arise in development? Here we test 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 exploit the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) as a test case, because it arises only after children learn to read. We scanned children with diffusion and functional imaging at age five, before they learned to read, and at age 8, after they learned to read. We find the VWFA develops functionally in this interval and that its location in a particular child at age 8 can 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.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016

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