Objective: The right prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays an essential role in active processing within visuospatial working memory (VSWM). The aim of this study was to examine developmental changes in the recruitment patterns of the PFC during visuospatial memory tasks in school-age participants. Methods: We recruited 80 school-age children who were classified into three age groups: 7- to 8-year-old, 9- to 10-year-old, and 11- to 12-year-old children. We used near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to measure PFC activity during visuospatial memory task. Memory stimuli were presented either sequentially or simultaneously. Results: In all three groups, right-lateralized PFC activity was observed during sequential presentation, suggesting specialization of the right PFC for VSWM. During simultaneous presentation, right-lateralized PFC activity was not observed in 7- to 8-year-old children or 9- to 10-year-old children. In contrast, PFC activity was right-lateralized in 11- to 12-year-old children. Conclusions: We suggest that specialization of the right PFC for VSWM is already present before school-age, but widely distributed activity in response to visuospatial memory tasks changes to more focal activity in VSWM-specific regions during the early school years. Significance: Using NIRS, we showed developmental changes in the recruitment patterns of the PFC during visuospatial memory tasks.
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