A longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging study of language development in children 5 to 11 years old

Authors

  • Jerzy P. Szaflarski MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    2. Center for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    • Department of Neurology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, MSB Room 4506, ML 0525, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0525
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  • Vincent J. Schmithorst PhD,

    1. Imaging Research Center, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    2. Department of Radiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
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  • Mekibib Altaye PhD,

    1. Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
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  • Anna W. Byars PhD,

    1. Department of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
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  • Jennifer Ret BA,

    1. Imaging Research Center, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
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  • Elena Plante PhD,

    1. Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
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  • Scott K. Holland PhD

    1. Imaging Research Center, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    2. Department of Radiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
    3. Department of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
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Abstract

Objective

Language skills continue to develop rapidly in children during the school-age years, and the “snapshot” view of the neural substrates of language provided by current neuroimaging studies cannot capture the dynamic changes associated with brain development. The aim of this study was to conduct a 5-year longitudinal investigation of language development using functional magnetic resonance imaging in healthy children.

Methods

Thirty subjects enrolled at ages 5, 6, or 7 were examined annually for 5 years using a 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner and a verb generation task. Data analysis was conducted based on a general linear model that was modified to investigate developmental changes whereas minimizing the potential for missing data.

Results

With increasing age, there is progressive participation in language processing by the inferior/middle frontal, middle temporal, and angular gyri of the left hemisphere and the lingual and inferior temporal gyri of the right hemisphere and regression of participation of the left posterior insula/extrastriate cortex, left superior frontal and right anterior cingulate gyri, and left thalamus.

Conclusion

The age-related changes observed in this study provide evidence of increased neuroplasticity of language in this age group and may have implications for further investigations of normal and aberrant language development. Ann Neurol 2006

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