Differential Development of High-Level Visual Cortex Correlates with Category-Specific Recognition Memory

By Golijeh GolaraiDara G. GhahremaniS. Whitfield-GabrieliAllan ReissJennifer L. EberhardtJohn D. E. GabrieliKalanit Grill-Spector
Nature Neuroscience
March2007 Vol. 10 Pages 512–522.

High-level visual cortex in humans includes functionally defined regions that preferentially respond to objects, faces and places. It is unknown how these regions develop and whether their development relates to recognition memory. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the development of several functionally defined regions including object (lateral occipital complex, LOC)-, face (‘fusiform face area’, FFA; superior temporal sulcus, STS)- and place (‘parahippocampal place area’, PPA)-selective cortices in children (ages 7–11), adolescents (12–16) and adults. Right FFA and left PPA volumes were substantially larger in adults than in children. This development occurred by expansion of FFA and PPA into surrounding cortex and was correlated with improved recognition memory for faces and places, respectively. In contrast, LOC and STS volumes and object-recognition memory remained constant across ages. Thus, the ventral stream undergoes a prolonged maturation that varies temporally across functional regions, is determined by brain region rather than stimulus category, and is correlated with the development of category-specific recognition memory.