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Eva Dundas, David Plaut, Marlene Behrmann; The Joint Development of Hemispheric Lateralization for Words and Faces. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.22.
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Consistent with longstanding findings from behavioral studies, recent neuroimaging investigations have identified a region of the inferior temporal cortex that shows greater face-selectivity in the right than left hemisphere and, conversely, a region that shows greater word-selectivity in the left than right hemisphere in adults. What has not been determined is how this pattern of mature hemispheric specialization emerges over the course of development. The current study examines the lateralized hemispheric superiority for faces and words in children, young adolescents and adults in a discrimination task in which stimuli are presented briefly in either hemifield. Whereas adults showed the expected left and right visual field superiority for face and word discrimination, respectively, adolescents demonstrated only the right field superiority for words and no field superiority for faces. Although the children's overall accuracy was lower than that of the older groups, like the adolescents, they exhibited a right visual field superiority for words but no field superiority for faces. Moreover, the emergence of face lateralization was correlated with reading competence, measured on an independent standardized test, after regressing out age and absolute face discrimination accuracy. Taken together, these findings suggest that the hemispheric organization of face and word recognition do not develop independently, and that word lateralization, which emerges earlier, may drive later face lateralization. A theoretical account in which competition for visual representations unfolds over the course of development is proposed to account for the findings.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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