Semantic language skills are an integral part of early childhood language development. The semantic association between verbs and nouns constitutes an important building block for the construction of sentences. In this large-scale functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, involving 336 subjects between the ages of 5 and 18years, we investigated the neural correlates of covert verb generation in children. Using group independent component analysis (ICA), seven task-related components were identified including the mid-superior temporal gyrus, the most posterior aspect of the superior temporal gyrus, the parahippocampal gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus, the angular gyrus, and medial aspect of the parietal lobule (precuneus/posterior cingulate). A highly left-lateralized component was found including the medial temporal gyrus, the frontal gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the angular gyrus. The associated independent component (IC) time courses were analyzed to investigate developmental changes in the neural elements supporting covert verb generation. Observed age effects may either reflect specific local neuroplastic changes in the neural substrates supporting language or a more global transformation of neuroplasticity in the developing brain. The results are analyzed and presented in the framework of two theoretical models for neurocognitive brain development. In this context, group ICA of fMRI data from our large sample of children aged 5-18years provides strong evidence in support of the regionally weighted model for cognitive neurodevelopment of language networks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience