Functional magnetic resonance imaging: Basic principles of and application to developmental science
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has quickly become the preferred technique for imaging normal brain activity, especially in the typically developing child. This technique takes advantage of specific magnetic properties and physiological processes to generate images of brain activity. These images can be interpreted as a function of group or individual based differences to explore developmental patterns and/or cognitive abilities. In this paper we present an overview of the basic principles of fMRI and a discussion of what is currently known about the physiological bases of the resulting signal We also report findings from developmental fMRI studies that examine the development of cognitive and neural systems underlying attention and memory. Behavioral performance and age-related neural changes are examined independently in an attempt to disentangle developmental differences from individual variability in performance.