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Frederik Kamps, Jordan Pincus, Samaher Radwan, Stephanie Wahab, Daniel Dilks; Late development of navigationally-relevant motion processing in the occipital place area. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):191. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.191.
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Human adults flawlessly and effortlessly navigate boundaries and obstacles in the immediately visible environment, a process we refer to as “visually-guided navigation”. Neuroimaging work in adults suggests this ability depends in part on the occipital place area (OPA) – a scene-selective region in the dorsal stream that selectively represents information necessary for visually-guided navigation. Despite progress in understanding the neural basis of visually-guided navigation, however, almost nothing is known about how this system develops. Is navigationally-relevant information processing present in the first few years of life? Or does this information processing only develop after many years of experience? Although a handful of studies have found selective responses to scenes (relative to objects) in OPA in childhood, no study has explored how more specific navigationally-relevant information processing emerges in this region. Here we do just that by measuring OPA responses to first-person perspective motion information – a proxy for the visual experience of actually navigating the immediate environment – using fMRI in 5 (N = 16) and 8 (N = 16) year old children. We found that although OPA already responded more to scenes than objects by age 5, responses to first-person perspective motion were not yet detectable at this same age, and rather only emerged by age 8. This protracted development was specific to first-person perspective motion through scenes, not motion on faces or objects, and was not found in other scene-selective regions (the parahippocampal place area or retrosplenial complex) or a motion-selective region (MT). These findings therefore suggest that navigationally-relevant information processing in OPA undergoes prolonged development across childhood.
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