Human ventral temporal cortex contains category-selective regions that respond preferentially to ecologically relevant categories such as faces, bodies, places and words and that are causally involved in the perception of these categories. How do these regions develop during childhood? We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure longitudinal development of category selectivity in school-age children over 1 to 5 years. We discovered that, from young childhood to the teens, face- and word-selective regions in ventral temporal cortex expand and become more category selective, but limb-selective regions shrink and lose their preference for limbs. Critically, as a child develops, increases in face and word selectivity are directly linked to decreases in limb selectivity, revealing that during childhood, limb selectivity in ventral temporal cortex is repurposed into word and face selectivity. These data provide evidence for cortical recycling during childhood development. This has important implications for understanding typical as well as atypical brain development and necessitates a rethinking of how cortical function develops during childhood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience