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Tobias Meissner, Marisa Nordt, Sarah Weigelt; Exploring the neural foundation of scene recognition development from middle childhood to adulthood. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):445. doi: 10.1167/17.10.445.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Navigating our environment is of high ecological relevance for humans and involves processing of the visual scenery. Scene processing, however, develops with age: Behavioral studies show that visual scene processing improves before and beyond the age of 6 and reaches adult levels at 10 years only. But what is the neural foundation for this development? Scene processing relies on a network of functionally scene-selective areas comprising the parahippocampal place area (PPA), retrosplenial complex (RSC) and transverse occipital sulcus (TOS) in adults. However, the driving neurocognitive factors for the behavioral development of scene processing remain unclear and are therefore targeted here. Using an fMRI localizer for scenes vs objects in three age groups, we investigated the development of scene recognition's neural foundation. So far, we functionally defined scene-selective ROIs (PPA, RSC, TOS) in adults (child-ROIs will follow). Then, we analyzed BOLD amplitudes within each ROI with regard to stimulus category (scenes, objects) as within-subject factor and age group (7-8, 11-12, 19-23 years) as between-subject factor conducting repeated measures ANOVAs. Preliminary analysis on data of six 7-8-year-olds, four 11-12-year-olds and ten adults revealed significant age group x category interactions in the rTOS, lTOS and rPPA. In these regions, the BOLD amplitudes for scenes did not change with age, while BOLD amplitudes for objects decreased from childhood to adulthood. These results speak in favor of a pruning-back-mechanism for cortical representations of objects – and possibly other non-scene stimulus categories – in scene-selective areas over development. Thus, a higher scene-selectivity in adulthood emerges by decreasing the answer to nonpreferred (non-scene) stimuli rather than increasing the answer to preferred (scene) stimuli during childhood. Our results add to the growing evidence that pruning-back cortical representations of nonpreferred stimuli may be one of the key mechanisms in the development of category-specialization in the human brain.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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