Human visual cortex encompasses more than a dozen visual field maps across three major processing streams. One of these streams is the lateral visual stream, which extends from V1 to lateral-occipital (LO) and temporal-occipital (TO) visual field maps and plays a prominent role in shape as well as motion perception. However, it is unknown if and how population receptive fields (pRFs) in the lateral visual stream develop from childhood to adulthood, and what impact this development may have on spatial coding. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and pRF modeling in school-age children and adults to investigate the development of the lateral visual stream. Our data reveal four main findings: 1) The topographic organization of eccentricity and polar angle maps of the lateral stream is stable after age five. 2) In both age groups there is a reliable relationship between eccentricity map transitions and cortical folding: the middle occipital gyrus predicts the transition between the peripheral representation of LO and TO maps. 3) pRFs in LO and TO maps undergo differential development from childhood to adulthood, resulting in increasing coverage of the central visual field in LO and of the peripheral visual field in TO. 4) Model-based decoding shows that the consequence of pRF and visual field coverage development is improved spatial decoding from LO and TO distributed responses in adults vs. children. Together, these results explicate both the development and topography of the lateral visual stream. Our data show that the general structural-functional organization is laid out early in development, but fine-scale properties, such as pRF distribution across the visual field and consequently, spatial precision, become fine-tuned across childhood development. These findings advance understanding of the development of the human visual system from childhood to adulthood and provide an essential foundation for understanding developmental deficits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience