Changes in the distribution of language function in the brain have been documented from infancy through adulthood. Even macroscopic measures of language lateralization reflect a dynamic process of language development. In this review, we summarize a series of functional MRI studies of language skills in children ages of five to 18 years, both typically-developing children and children with brain injuries or neurological disorders that occur at different developmental stages with different degrees of severity. These studies used a battery of fMRI-compatible language tasks designed to tap sentential and lexical language skills that develop early and later in childhood. In typically-developing children, lateralization changes with age are associated with language skills that have a protracted period of development, reflecting the developmental process of skill acquisition rather than general maturation of the brain. Normative data, across the developmental period, acts as a reference for disentangling developmental patterns in brain activation from changes due to developmental or acquired abnormalities. This review emphasizes the importance of considering age and child development in neuroimaging studies of language.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing