Differential prefrontal-temporal neural correlates of semantic processing in children
This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain-behavior correlations in a group of 16 children (9- to 12-year-olds). Activation was measured during a semantic judgment task presented in either the visual or auditory modality that required the individual to determine whether a final word was related in meaning to one of two previous words (e.g., found-tank-lost). The main finding was that higher performers (i.e., accuracy) were associated with more activation in posterior representational systems including the inferior and middle temporal gyri, whereas lower performers were associated with more activation in anterior regions including the inferior and middle frontal gyri. This pattern of results was interpreted as reflecting an elaborated semantic representational system in temporal areas for the high accuracy performers that allowed them to efficiently and accurately make meaning based judgments. The low accuracy performers may have an inaccurate or weakly interconnected semantic system that results in greater use of frontal areas in a feature selection process.