Original Research ARTICLE
Front. Hum. Neurosci., 30 September 2009 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/neuro.09.025.2009
Developmental continuity and change in responses to social and nonsocial categories in human extrastriate visual cortex
Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
University of Illinois, Chicago School of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
It is well known that adult human extrastriate visual cortex contains areas that respond in a selective fashion to specific categories of visual stimuli. Three regions have been identified with particular regularity: the fusiform face area (FFA), which responds to faces more than to other objects; the parahippocampal place area (PPA), which responds selectively to images of houses, places, and visual scenes; and the extrastriate body area (EBA), which responds specifically to images of bodies and body parts. While the presence of these regions in the mature human brain is well-established, the degree to which children possess these areas and the degree of functional specialization of these areas in children of various ages has thus far remained unclear. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined the development of the FFA, EBA, and PPA in healthy, typically developing 7- to 11-year-old children and adults. Our results revealed a right FFA and a bilateral EBA and PPA in the children that were localized in a way consistent with these same regions in adults. In addition, the response profiles of these regions were very similar in adults and children with comparable levels of functional specificity at all of the ages tested. We discuss the implications of this research for understanding abnormal regional specialization for social and nonsocial object categories in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.