Visuospatial processing is a cognitive function that is critical to navigating one's surroundings and begins to develop during infancy. Extensive research has examined visuospatial processing in adults, but far less work has investigated how visuospatial processing and the underlying neurophysiology changes from childhood to early adolescence, which is a critical period of human development that is marked by the onset of puberty. In the current study, we examined behavioral performance and the oscillatory dynamics serving visuospatial processing using magnetoencephalography (MEG) in a cohort of 70 children and young adolescents aged 8–15 years. All participants performed a visuospatial processing task during MEG, and the resulting oscillatory responses were imaged using a beamformer and probed for developmental and sex-related differences. Our findings indicated that reaction time on the task was negatively correlated with age, and that the amplitude of theta oscillations in the medial occipital cortices increased with age. Significant sex-by-age interactions were also detected, with female participants exhibiting increased theta oscillatory activity in the right prefrontal cortex with increasing age, while male participants exhibited theta increases in the left parietal lobe/left precuneus and left supplementary motor area with increasing age. These data indicate that different nodes of the visuospatial processing network develop earlier in males compared to females (and vice versa) in this age range, which may have major implications for the developmental trajectory of behavioral performance and executive function more generally during the transition through puberty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience