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This opinion paper suggests that developmental neuroimaging studies investigating emerging cortical networks for specific cognitive functions can contribute substantially to our understanding of mature brain organisation. Based on a review of the literature on the neural correlates of face processing abilities, this paper shows how developmental neuroimaging can help resolve outstanding issues, such as whether specific brain regions actually start out by responding to specific stimulus classes, and how this response changes with development. It has been suggested for example, that improving specialisation in a particular brain regions may be the result of increasing connectivity with other network regions supporting the same cognitive function. Developmental neuroimaging studies are particularly well suited to disentangle the interplay between changes at different network levels, such as improving behavioural proficiencies and functional and structural brain development, as well as overall network configuration changes. However, much of the future progress will depend on whether developmental changes are assessed by combining multiple network observations. This paper makes specific suggestions as to how such a multifaceted approach may look like by exploring the suitability of different theoretical frameworks, such as the neural re-use theory or the neuroconstructivist approach for providing guiding principles for future research.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





246 - 255


Animals, Brain, Cerebral Cortex, Cognition, Facial Expression, Humans, Nerve Net