A lateral-to-mesial organization of human ventral visual cortex at birth
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In human adults, ventral extra-striate visual cortex contains a mosaic of functionally specialized areas, some responding preferentially to natural visual categories such as faces (fusiform face area) or places (parahippocampal place area) and others to cultural inventions such as written words and numbers (visual word form and number form areas). It has been hypothesized that this mosaic arises from innate biases in cortico-cortical connectivity. We tested this hypothesis by examining functional resting-state correlation at birth using fMRI data from full-term human newborns. The results revealed that ventral visual regions are functionally connected with their contra-lateral homologous regions and also exhibit distinct patterns of long-distance functional correlation with anterior associative regions. A mesial-to-lateral organization was observed, with the signal of the more lateral regions, including the sites of visual word and number form areas, exhibiting higher correlations with voxels of the prefrontal, inferior parietal and temporal cortices, including language areas. Finally, we observed hemispheric asymmetries in the functional correlation of key areas of the language network that may influence later adult hemispheric lateralization. We suggest that long-distance circuits present at birth constrain the subsequent functional differentiation of the ventral visual cortex.
KeywordsNeonates Brain Functional connectivity Language
Authors would like to thank Elvis Dohmatob, Isabelle Denghien, François Leroy, Jessica Dubois and Parvaneh Adibpour for their constructive remarks during this work.
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