Project Detail
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Neural correlates of maturation of face processing  

Face perception is critical for social interaction and development, and it undergoes a prolonged maturation that last until the teens. However, little is known about the maturation of the neural or psychological processes that support face perception in children. With support from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Kalanit Grill-spector and her colleagues at Stanford University will conduct a program of research that will use cutting-edge neuroimaging tools (high resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) and behavioral methods to elucidate the maturation of face processing in school age children in terms of the psychological processes involved, the development of the underlying neural systems, and their relation. Imaging studies conducted with adult participants have revealed face-selective regions in the human visual cortex whose activity is correlated with subjects' performance in face perception tasks. These findings support a key role for face-selective cortex in face perception in adults. The current project will examine whether the maturation of face perception involves maturation of face-selective cortex specifically, or visual cortex generally. Behavioral measures will be combined with fMRI to investigate how the maturation of visual and face-selective cortex affects specific stages of face processing. For example, the studies will examine whether children's performance is different than adults on basic visual tasks such as classifying images (face, car, etc.), whether children's performance is lower for identifying specific individuals and whether performance differs for faces of children vs. faces of adults. This research is important because it will provide a much needed foundation for understanding the basic neural mechanisms of the development of visual perception in children. Understanding normal maturation is also crucial for understanding many learning disabilities that involve deficits in visual perception and developmental disorders that include altered visual perception (such as Williams Syndrome and autism). Project Status


Funder National Science Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $156,353.75
Current Award Period 2006-2010
Project Number 617688
Principal Investigator Grill-Spector, Kalanit
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Neural Systems
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Stanford University
State/Country California
Web Link 1 Neural correlates of maturation of face processing (External web link)
Web Link 2 Neural correlates of maturation of face processing (External web link)
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A