Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Sensitivity to global visual motion has been proposed as a signature of brain development, related to the dorsal rather than ventral cortical stream. Thresholds for global motion have been found to be elevated more than for global static form in many developmental disorders, leading to the idea of “dorsal stream vulnerability.” Here we explore the association of global motion thresholds with individual differences in children's brain development, in a group of typically developing 5- to 12-year-olds. Good performance was associated with a relative increase in parietal lobe surface area, most strongly around the intraparietal sulcus and decrease in occipital area. In line with the involvement of intraparietal sulcus, areas in visuospatial and numerical cognition, we also found that global motion performance was correlated with tests of visuomotor integration and numerical skills. Individual differences in global form detection showed none of these anatomical or cognitive correlations. This suggests that the correlations with motion sensitivity are unlikely to reflect general perceptual or attentional abilities required for both form and motion. We conclude that individual developmental variations in global motion processing are not linked to greater area in the extrastriate visual areas, which initially process such motion, but in the parietal systems that make decisions based on this information. The overlap with visuospatial and numerical abilities may indicate the anatomical substrate of the “dorsal stream vulnerability” proposed as characterizing neurodevelopmental disorders.