Structured patterns of global visual motion called optic flow provide crucial information about an observer's speed and direction of self-motion and about the geometry of the environment. Brain and behavioral responses to optic flow undergo considerable postnatal maturation, but relatively little brain imaging evidence describes the time course of development in motion processing systems in early to middle childhood, a time when psychophysical data suggest that there are changes in sensitivity. To fill this gap, electroencephalographic (EEG) responses were recorded in 4- to 8-year-old children who viewed three time-varying optic flow patterns (translation, rotation, and radial expansion/contraction) at three different speeds (2, 4, and 8 deg/s). Modulations of global motion coherence evoked coherent EEG responses at the first harmonic that differed by flow pattern and responses at the third harmonic and dot update rate that varied by speed. Pattern-related responses clustered over right lateral channels while speed-related responses clustered over midline channels. Both children and adults show widespread responses to modulations of motion coherence at the second harmonic that are not selective for pattern or speed. The results suggest that the developing brain segregates the processing of optic flow pattern from speed and that an adult-like pattern of neural responses to optic flow has begun to emerge by early to middle childhood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)