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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 362349, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/362349
Research Article

Changes in Cortical Thickness in 6-Year-Old Children Open Their Mind to a Global Vision of the World

1LaPsyDÉ, UMR 8240, CNRS, Université Paris Descartes and Université de Caen, Sorbonne, 46 rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris, France
2Institut Universitaire de France, 75005 Paris, France
3ISTS, UMR 6301, CNRS, CEA, 14000 Caen, France
4CHU de Caen, Service de Psychiatrie, Centre Esquirol, 14074 Caen, France

Received 20 February 2014; Revised 12 June 2014; Accepted 30 June 2014; Published 9 July 2014

Academic Editor: Tianming Liu

Copyright © 2014 Nicolas Poirel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Even if objectively presented with similar visual stimuli, children younger than 6 years of age exhibit a strong attraction to local visual information (e.g., the trees), whereas children older than 6 years of age, similar to adults, exhibit a visual bias toward global information (e.g., the forest). Here, we studied the cortical thickness changes that underlie this bias shift from local to global visual information. Two groups, matched for age, gender, and handedness, were formed from a total of 30 children who were 6 years old, and both groups performed a traditional global/local visual task. The first group presented a local visual bias, and the other group presented a global visual bias. The results indicated that, compared with the local visual bias group, children with a global visual bias exhibited (1) decreased cortical thickness in the bilateral occipital regions and (2) increased cortical thickness in the left frontoparietal regions. These findings constitute the first structural study that supports the view that both synaptic pruning (i.e., decreased cortical thickness) and expansion mechanisms (i.e., increased cortical thickness) cooccur to allow healthy children to develop a global perception of the visual world.