Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Syst. Neurosci., 01 June 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2011.00029

A linear structural equation model for covert verb generation based on independent component analysis of fMRI data from children and adolescents

  • 1 Center for NMR Research, Department of Radiology, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA
  • 2 Pediatric NeuroImaging Research Consortium, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA
  • 3 Center for Imaging Research, Department of Neurology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
  • 4 Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Human language is a complex and protean cognitive ability. Young children, following well defined developmental patterns learn language rapidly and effortlessly producing full sentences by the age of 3 years. However, the language circuitry continues to undergo significant neuroplastic changes extending well into teenage years. Evidence suggests that the developing brain adheres to two rudimentary principles of functional organization: functional integration and functional specialization. At a neurobiological level, this distinction can be identified with progressive specialization or focalization reflecting consolidation and synaptic reinforcement of a network (Lenneberg, 1967; Muller et al., 1998; Berl et al., 2006). In this paper, we used group independent component analysis and linear structural equation modeling (McIntosh and Gonzalez-Lima, 1994; Karunanayaka et al., 2007) to tease out the developmental trajectories of the language circuitry based on fMRI data from 336 children ages 5–18 years performing a blocked, covert verb generation task. The results are analyzed and presented in the framework of theoretical models for neurocognitive brain development. This study highlights the advantages of combining both modular and connectionist approaches to cognitive functions; from a methodological perspective, it demonstrates the feasibility of combining data-driven and hypothesis driven techniques to investigate the developmental shifts in the semantic network.

Keywords: brain development, functional neuroimaging, language, pediatric, child, fMRI

Citation: Karunanayaka P, Schmithorst VJ, Vannest J, Szaflarski JP, Plante E and Holland SK (2011) A linear structural equation model for covert verb generation based on independent component analysis of fMRI data from children and adolescents. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 5:29. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2011.00029

Received: 24 May 2010; Accepted: 29 April 2011;
Published online: 01 June 2011.

Edited by:

Silvina G. Horovitz, National Institutes of Health, USA

Reviewed by:

Vince D. Calhoun, University of New Mexico, USA

Copyright: © 2011 Karunanayaka, Schmithorst, Vannest, Szaflarski, Plante and Holland. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Scott K. Holland, Pediatric NeuroImaging Research Consortium, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, ML 5033, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA. e-mail: scott.holland@cchmc.org