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Daniel D. Dilks, Eyal Dechter, Christina Triantafyllou, Boris Keil, Lawrence L. Wald, Matthew D. Tisdall, Andre van der Kouwe, Bruce Fischl, Rebecca Saxe, Nancy Kanwisher; No Change in the Size of the Right Fusiform Face Area between Age Five and Adulthood. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):493. doi: 10.1167/10.7.493.
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Studies of the development of face recognition reveal a conflict between behavioral findings – which show that all classic signatures of adult face recognition are present very early in development (by 4 years of age) – and neural evidence for continuing enlargement of the right ‘fusiform face area’ (rFFA) well into adolescence. Here we addressed this conflict by developing i) new pediatric neuroimaging methods including a new 32-channel coil optimized for five-year-olds, ii) dynamic movie stimuli designed to engage the interest of children and adults alike, and iii) novel pulse sequences that reduce the effects of subject motion. Eight children between the ages of 5 and 6 were scanned while viewing movies of faces and objects. One child moved more than 6 mm, and was omitted from further analyses. Each of the seven remaining children was matched on subject motion and residual error from the general linear model to an adult subject run on the same protocol with an adult 32-channel coil. Six out of the seven children showed clear, adult-like rFFAs. No significant differences were found between the children and adults in either the volume of the functionally defined rFFA, or in the total number of face-selective voxels in the anatomically defined fusiform gyrus. Thus, we find no change in the size of the rFFA between age 5 and adulthood, consistent with the behavioral data suggesting face processing is present early in development.
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