Beyond what develops when neuroimaging may inform how cognition changes with development
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There is no single methodology that can fully explain the nature of human development and learning. Yet, headway is being made on how cognitive milestones are achieved during development with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. With this methodology, it is possible to assess changes in brain structure, function, and connectivity. Recent findings suggest that both progressive and regressive processes - as opposed to simple linear patterns of change - underlie changes in cognitive abilities. Functional MRI studies suggest that both biological maturation and learning correspond to a fine-tuning of neural systems with enhanced recruitment of task-relevant regions. This fine-tuning of cortical systems corresponds with their enhanced connectivity with cortical and subcortical circuitry. In sum, imaging has helped to move the field of cognitive development beyond questions of what develops and when, to how these changes may occur. Copyright © 2006 Association for Psychological Science.
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