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Population receptive field tuning properties of visual cortex during childhood

Dekker, T.M.; Schwarzkopf, D.S.; de Haas, B.; Nardini, M.; Sereno, M.I.

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T.M. Dekker

D.S. Schwarzkopf

B. de Haas

M.I. Sereno


Visuospatial abilities such as contrast sensitivity and Vernier acuity improve until late in childhood, but the neural mechanisms supporting these changes are poorly understood. We tested to which extent this development might reflect improved spatial sensitivity of neuronal populations in visual cortex. To do this, we measured BOLD-responses in areas V1-V4 and V3a, whilst 6- to 12-year-old children and adults watched large-field wedge and ring stimuli in the MRI scanner, and then fitted population receptive field (pRF) tuning functions to these data (Dumoulin and Wandell, 2008). Cortical magnification and pRF tuning width changed with eccentricity at all ages, as expected. However, there were no significant age differences in pRF size, shape, cortical magnification, or map consistency in any visual region. These findings thus strongly suggest that spatial vision in late childhood is not substantially limited by the spatial tuning of neuronal populations in early visual cortex. Instead, improvements in performance may reflect more efficient read-out of spatial information in early visual regions by higher-level processing stages, or prolonged tuning to more complex visual properties such as orientation. Importantly, this in-depth characterisation of the pRF tuning profiles across childhood, paves the way for in-vivo-testing of atypical visual cortex development and plasticity.


Dekker, T., Schwarzkopf, D., de Haas, B., Nardini, M., & Sereno, M. (2019). Population receptive field tuning properties of visual cortex during childhood. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 37,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2019
Publication Date Jun 30, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 28, 2019
Journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Print ISSN 1878-9293
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37


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