White matter maturation in visual and motor areas predicts the latency of visual activation in children

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In humans, white matter maturation is important for the improvement of cognitive function and performance with age. Across studies the variables of white matter maturity and age are highly correlated; however, the unique contributions of white matter to information processing speed remain relatively unknown. We investigated the relations between the speed of the visually-evoked P100m response and the biophysical properties of white matter in 11 healthy children performing a simple, visually-cued finger movement. We found that: (1) the latency of the early, visually-evoked response was related to the integrity of white matter in both visual and motor association areas and (2) white matter maturation in these areas accounted for the variations in visual processing speed, independent of age. Our study is a novel investigation of spatial-temporal dynamics in the developing brain and provides evidence that white matter maturation accounts for age-related decreases in the speed of visual response. Developmental models of cortical specialization should incorporate the unique role of white matter maturation in mediating changes in performance during tasks involving visual processing. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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