Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum (2018)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Cortical recycling in high-level visual cortex during childhood development. Nature human behaviour Nordt, M., Gomez, J., Natu, V. S., Rezai, A. A., Finzi, D., Kular, H., Grill-Spector, K. 2021


    Human ventral temporal cortex contains category-selective regions that respond preferentially to ecologically relevant categories such as faces, bodies, places and words and that are causally involved in the perception of these categories. How do these regions develop during childhood? We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure longitudinal development of category selectivity in school-age children over 1 to 5 years. We discovered that, from young childhood to the teens, face- and word-selective regions in ventral temporal cortex expand and become more category selective, but limb-selective regions shrink and lose their preference for limbs. Critically, as a child develops, increases in face and word selectivity are directly linked to decreases in limb selectivity, revealing that during childhood, limb selectivity in ventral temporal cortex is repurposed into word and face selectivity. These data provide evidence for cortical recycling during childhood development. This has important implications for understanding typical as well as atypical brain development and necessitates a rethinking of how cortical function develops during childhood.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41562-021-01141-5

    View details for PubMedID 34140657

  • Differential spatial computations in ventral and lateral face-selective regions are scaffolded by structural connections. Nature communications Finzi, D., Gomez, J., Nordt, M., Rezai, A. A., Poltoratski, S., Grill-Spector, K. 2021; 12 (1): 2278


    Face-processing occurs across ventral and lateral visual streams, which are involved in static and dynamic face perception, respectively. However, the nature of spatial computations across streams is unknown. Using functional MRI and population receptive field (pRF) mapping, we measured pRFs in face-selective regions. Results reveal that spatial computations by pRFs in ventral face-selective regions are concentrated around the center of gaze (fovea), but spatial computations in lateral face-selective regions extend peripherally. Diffusion MRI reveals that these differences are mirrored by a preponderance of white matter connections between ventral face-selective regions and foveal early visual cortex (EVC), while connections with lateral regions are distributed more uniformly across EVC eccentricities. These findings suggest a rethinking of spatial computations in face-selective regions, showing that they vary across ventral and lateral streams, and further propose that spatial computations in high-level regions are scaffolded by the fine-grain pattern of white matter connections from EVC.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-22524-2

    View details for PubMedID 33859195

  • Prolonged functional development of the parahippocampal place area and occipital place area NEUROIMAGE Meissner, T. W., Nordt, M., Weigelt, S. 2019; 191: 104-115


    Successful navigation of our surroundings is of high environmental relevance and involves processing of the visual scenery. Scene-processing undergoes a major behavioral improvement during childhood. However, possible neural changes that underlie this cognitive development in scene perception are understudied in comparison to other stimulus categories. We used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scene localizer and behavioral recognition and memory tasks in 7-8-year-olds, 11-12-year-olds, and adults to test whether scene-selective areas-the parahippocampal place area (PPA), the retrosplenial cortex (RSC), and the occipital place area (OPA)-show a change in volume and selectivity with age, and whether this change is correlated with behavioral perception and memory performance. We find that children have a smaller PPA and OPA than adults, while the size of RSC does not differ. Furthermore, selectivity for scenes in the PPA and the OPA, but not in the RSC, increases with age. This increase seems to be driven by both increasing responses to preferred stimuli and decreasing responses to non-preferred stimuli. Our findings extend previous knowledge about visual cortex development by unveiling the underlying mechanisms of age-related volume and selectivity increases in the scene network especially elucidating the poorly understood development of the OPA.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.02.025

    View details for Web of Science ID 000462145700009

    View details for PubMedID 30763610

  • Age-related increase of image-invariance in the fusiform face area DEVELOPMENTAL COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Nordt, M., Semmelmann, K., Genc, E., Weigelt, S. 2018; 31: 46-57


    Face recognition undergoes prolonged development from childhood to adulthood, thereby raising the question which neural underpinnings are driving this development. Here, we address the development of the neural foundation of the ability to recognize a face across naturally varying images. Fourteen children (ages, 7-10) and 14 adults (ages, 20-23) watched images of either the same or different faces in a functional magnetic resonance imaging adaptation paradigm. The same face was either presented in exact image repetitions or in varying images. Additionally, a subset of participants completed a behavioral task, in which they decided if the face in consecutively presented images belonged to the same person. Results revealed age-related increases in neural sensitivity to face identity in the fusiform face area. Importantly, ventral temporal face-selective regions exhibited more image-invariance - as indicated by stronger adaptation for different images of the same person - in adults compared to children. Crucially, the amount of adaptation to face identity across varying images was correlated with the ability to recognize individual faces in different images. These results suggest that the increase of image-invariance in face-selective regions might be related to the development of face recognition skills.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dcn.2018.04.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000433583600005

    View details for PubMedID 29738921

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6969195

  • Learning to Read Increases the Informativeness of Distributed Ventral Temporal Responses. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) Nordt, M. n., Gomez, J. n., Natu, V. n., Jeska, B. n., Barnett, M. n., Grill-Spector, K. n. 2018


    Becoming a proficient reader requires substantial learning over many years. However, it is unknown how learning to read affects development of distributed visual representations across human ventral temporal cortex (VTC). Using fMRI and a data-driven, computational approach, we quantified the development of distributed VTC responses to characters (pseudowords and numbers) versus other domains in children, preteens, and adults. Results reveal anatomical- and hemisphere-specific development. With development, distributed responses to words and characters became more distinctive and informative in lateral but not medial VTC, and in the left but not right hemisphere. While the development of voxels with both positive and negative preference to words affected distributed information, only development of voxels with positive preference to words (i.e., word-selective) was correlated with reading ability. These data show that developmental increases in informativeness of distributed left lateral VTC responses are related to proficient reading and have important implications for both developmental theories and for elucidating neural mechanisms of reading disabilities.

    View details for PubMedID 30169753