Resting state neural networks for visual Chinese word processing in Chinese adults and children

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Abstract

This study examined the resting state neural networks for visual Chinese word processing in Chinese children and adults. Both the functional connectivity (FC) and amplitude of low frequency fluctuation (ALFF) approaches were used to analyze the fMRI data collected when Chinese participants were not engaged in any specific explicit tasks. We correlated time series extracted from the visual word form area (VWFA) with those in other regions in the brain. We also performed ALFF analysis in the resting state FC networks. The FC results revealed that, regarding the functionally connected brain regions, there exist similar intrinsically organized resting state networks for visual Chinese word processing in adults and children, suggesting that such networks may already be functional after 3–4 years of informal exposure to reading plus 3–4 years formal schooling. The ALFF results revealed that children appear to recruit more neural resources than adults in generally reading-irrelevant brain regions. Differences between child and adult ALFF results suggest that children's intrinsic word processing network during the resting state, though similar in functional connectivity, is still undergoing development. Further exposure to visual words and experience with reading are needed for children to develop a mature intrinsic network for word processing. The developmental course of the intrinsically organized word processing network may parallel that of the explicit word processing network.

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