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Urbain C.,Free University of Colombia | Urbain C.,Lcfc Laboratoire Of Cartographie Fonctionnelle Du Cerveau | Bourguignon M.,Lcfc Laboratoire Of Cartographie Fonctionnelle Du Cerveau | Op de Beeck M.,Lcfc Laboratoire Of Cartographie Fonctionnelle Du Cerveau | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Learning the functional properties of objects is a core mechanism in the development of conceptual, cognitive and linguistic knowledge in children. The cerebral processes underlying these learning mechanisms remain unclear in adults and unexplored in children. Here, we investigated the neurophysiological patterns underpinning the learning of functions for novel objects in 10-year-old healthy children. Event-related fields (ERFs) were recorded using magnetoencephalography (MEG) during a picture-definition task. Two MEG sessions were administered, separated by a behavioral verbal learning session during which children learned short definitions about the "magical" function of 50 unknown non-objects. Additionally, 50 familiar real objects and 50 other unknown non-objects for which no functions were taught were presented at both MEG sessions. Children learned at least 75% of the 50 proposed definitions in less than one hour, illustrating children's powerful ability to rapidly map new functional meanings to novel objects. Pre- and post-learning ERFs differences were analyzed first in sensor then in source space. Results in sensor space disclosed a learning-dependent modulation of ERFs for newly learned non-objects, developing 500-800 msec after stimulus onset. Analyses in the source space windowed over this late temporal component of interest disclosed underlying activity in right parietal, bilateral orbito-frontal and right temporal regions. Altogether, our results suggest that learning-related evolution in late ERF components over those regions may support the challenging task of rapidly creating new semantic representations supporting the processing of the meaning and functions of novel objects in children. © 2013 Urbain et al.

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