9 March 2011 The neural correlates of face processing and Chinese character processing in children
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It is well known that adults are experts at processing words and faces. Accordingly, adult research has identified two neural expertise systems involved in word processing and face processing within the fusiform gyrus, respectively, namely the visual word form area (VWFA) and fusiform face area (FFA). The present study used fMRI to explore whether similar differentiations exist for the FFA and VWFA in 10~11-aged children, by comparing the activation between faces, Chinese characters, and common objects. Our study identified adult-like Chinese character-preferential activation and common object-preferential activation in 10~11-aged children, especially with the fusiform gyrus, while fail to reveal a consistent region showing preferential response to faces. An inspection of individual activation of faces relative to Chinese characters and common objects revealed adults-like FFA in some of children, indicating that the absence of face-preferential activation at the group level may be mainly due to the considerable variability in the magnitude and locus of individual face-preferential activation. Our finds suggested that the Chinese character-preferential regions and common object-preferential regions within the fusiform gyrus may be formed earlier than that of faces. Especially, though the VWFA and FFA are both related to visual expertise, our findings indicated that the VWFA can be formed only through a 3~4-years' schooling; in contrast the formation of FFA appear to undergo a more prolonged development before it reaches the adult level.
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Jiangang Liu, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, "The neural correlates of face processing and Chinese character processing in children", Proc. SPIE 7965, Medical Imaging 2011: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging, 796505 (9 March 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.877903; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.877903

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