Developmental grey matter changes in superior parietal cortex accompany improved transitive reasoning
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The neural basis of developmental changes in transitive reasoning in parietal regions was examined, using voxel-based morphometry. Young adolescents and adults performed a transitive reasoning task, subsequent to undergoing anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. Behaviorally, adults reasoned more accurately than did the young adolescents. Neural results showed (i) less grey matter density in superior parietal cortex in the adults than in the young adolescents, possibly due to a developmental period of synaptic pruning; (ii) improved performance in the reasoning task was negatively correlated with grey matter density in superior parietal cortex in the adolescents, but not in the adult group; and (iii) the latter results were driven by the more difficult trials, requiring greater spatial manipulation. Taken together, the results support the idea that during development, regions in superior parietal cortex are fine-tuned, to support more robust spatial manipulation, resulting in greater accuracy and efficiency in transitive reasoning.