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      Development of the Intrinsic Language Network in Preschool Children from Ages 3 to 5 Years

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          Abstract

          Resting state studies of spontaneous fluctuations in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygen level dependent signal have shown great potential in mapping the intrinsic functional connectivity of the human brain underlying cognitive functions. The aim of the present study was to explore the developmental changes in functional networks of the developing human brain exemplified with the language network in typically developing preschool children. To this end, resting-sate fMRI data were obtained from native Chinese children at ages of 3 and 5 years, 15 in each age group. Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) was analyzed for four regions of interest; these are the left and right anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG), left posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG), and left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). The comparison of these RSFC maps between 3- and 5-year-olds revealed that RSFC decreases in the right aSTG and increases in the left hemisphere between aSTG seed and IFG, between pSTG seed and IFG, as well as between IFG seed and posterior superior temporal sulcus. In a subsequent analysis, functional asymmetry of the language network seeding in aSTG, pSTG and IFG was further investigated. The results showed an increase of left lateralization in both RSFC of pSTG and of IFG from ages 3 to 5 years. The IFG showed a leftward lateralized trend in 3-year-olds, while pSTG demonstrated rightward asymmetry in 5-year-olds. These findings suggest clear developmental trajectories of the language network between 3- and 5-year-olds revealed as a function of age, characterized by increasing long-range connections and dynamic hemispheric lateralization with age. Our study provides new insights into the developmental changes of a well-established functional network in young children and also offers a basis for future cross-culture and cross-age studies of the resting-state language network.

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          Most cited references 49

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          Ventral and dorsal pathways for language.

          Built on an analogy between the visual and auditory systems, the following dual stream model for language processing was suggested recently: a dorsal stream is involved in mapping sound to articulation, and a ventral stream in mapping sound to meaning. The goal of the study presented here was to test the neuroanatomical basis of this model. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a novel diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based tractography method we were able to identify the most probable anatomical pathways connecting brain regions activated during two prototypical language tasks. Sublexical repetition of speech is subserved by a dorsal pathway, connecting the superior temporal lobe and premotor cortices in the frontal lobe via the arcuate and superior longitudinal fascicle. In contrast, higher-level language comprehension is mediated by a ventral pathway connecting the middle temporal lobe and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex via the extreme capsule. Thus, according to our findings, the function of the dorsal route, traditionally considered to be the major language pathway, is mainly restricted to sensory-motor mapping of sound to articulation, whereas linguistic processing of sound to meaning requires temporofrontal interaction transmitted via the ventral route.
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            Dorsal and ventral streams: a framework for understanding aspects of the functional anatomy of language.

            Despite intensive work on language-brain relations, and a fairly impressive accumulation of knowledge over the last several decades, there has been little progress in developing large-scale models of the functional anatomy of language that integrate neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and psycholinguistic data. Drawing on relatively recent developments in the cortical organization of vision, and on data from a variety of sources, we propose a new framework for understanding aspects of the functional anatomy of language which moves towards remedying this situation. The framework posits that early cortical stages of speech perception involve auditory fields in the superior temporal gyrus bilaterally (although asymmetrically). This cortical processing system then diverges into two broad processing streams, a ventral stream, which is involved in mapping sound onto meaning, and a dorsal stream, which is involved in mapping sound onto articulatory-based representations. The ventral stream projects ventro-laterally toward inferior posterior temporal cortex (posterior middle temporal gyrus) which serves as an interface between sound-based representations of speech in the superior temporal gyrus (again bilaterally) and widely distributed conceptual representations. The dorsal stream projects dorso-posteriorly involving a region in the posterior Sylvian fissure at the parietal-temporal boundary (area Spt), and ultimately projecting to frontal regions. This network provides a mechanism for the development and maintenance of "parity" between auditory and motor representations of speech. Although the proposed dorsal stream represents a very tight connection between processes involved in speech perception and speech production, it does not appear to be a critical component of the speech perception process under normal (ecologically natural) listening conditions, that is, when speech input is mapped onto a conceptual representation. We also propose some degree of bi-directionality in both the dorsal and ventral pathways. We discuss some recent empirical tests of this framework that utilize a range of methods. We also show how damage to different components of this framework can account for the major symptom clusters of the fluent aphasias, and discuss some recent evidence concerning how sentence-level processing might be integrated into the framework.
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              The Neural Architecture of the Language Comprehension Network: Converging Evidence from Lesion and Connectivity Analyses

              While traditional models of language comprehension have focused on the left posterior temporal cortex as the neurological basis for language comprehension, lesion and functional imaging studies indicate the involvement of an extensive network of cortical regions. However, the full extent of this network and the white matter pathways that contribute to it remain to be characterized. In an earlier voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping analysis of data from aphasic patients (Dronkers et al., 2004), several brain regions in the left hemisphere were found to be critical for language comprehension: the left posterior middle temporal gyrus, the anterior part of Brodmann's area 22 in the superior temporal gyrus (anterior STG/BA22), the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) extending into Brodmann's area 39 (STS/BA39), the orbital part of the inferior frontal gyrus (BA47), and the middle frontal gyrus (BA46). Here, we investigated the white matter pathways associated with these regions using diffusion tensor imaging from healthy subjects. We also used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data to assess the functional connectivity profiles of these regions. Fiber tractography and functional connectivity analyses indicated that the left MTG, anterior STG/BA22, STS/BA39, and BA47 are part of a richly interconnected network that extends to additional frontal, parietal, and temporal regions in the two hemispheres. The inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus, the arcuate fasciculus, and the middle and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, as well as transcallosal projections via the tapetum were found to be the most prominent white matter pathways bridging the regions important for language comprehension. The left MTG showed a particularly extensive structural and functional connectivity pattern which is consistent with the severity of the impairments associated with MTG lesions and which suggests a central role for this region in language comprehension.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                3 November 2016
                2016
                : 11
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neuropsychology, Leipzig, Germany
                [2 ]Max Planck Research Group for Neuroanatomy & Connectivity, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
                [3 ]College of Education, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, R.P. China
                [4 ]Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, R.P. China
                Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CHINA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

                • Conceptualization: HCZ YQX FCJ.

                • Formal analysis: YQX ML JB.

                • Methodology: YQX JB ML DSM.

                • Project administration: HCZ FCJ.

                • Supervision: ADF.

                • Writing – original draft: YQX JB ADF.

                • Writing – review & editing: ADF YQX JB ML DSM.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-16043
                10.1371/journal.pone.0165802
                5094780
                27812160
                © 2016 Xiao et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 4, Pages: 19
                Product
                Funding
                The authors received no specific funding for this work.
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                All preprocessed and relevant data is available in Figshare (doi: dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4047648).

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