Use of complex visual stimuli allows controlled recruitment of cortical networks in infants

Eero Ahtola*, Susanna Stjerna, Anton Tokariev, Sampsa Vanhatalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: To characterize cortical networks activated by patterned visual stimuli in infants, and to evaluate their potential for assessment of visual processing and their associations with neurocognitive development. Methods: Three visual stimuli, orientation reversal (OR), global form (GF), and global motion (GM), were presented to cohort of five-month-old infants (N = 26). Eye tracker was used to guide the stimulation and to choose epochs for analysis. Visual responses were recorded with electroencephalography and analysed in source space using weighted phase lag index as the connectivity measure. The networks were quantified using several metrics that were compared between stimuli and correlated to cognitive outcomes. Results: Responses to OR/GF/GM stimuli were observed in nearly all (96/100/100%) recordings. All stimuli recruited cortical networks that were partly condition-specific in their characteristics. The more complex GF and GM conditions recruited wider global networks than OR. Additionally, strength of the GF network showed positive association with later cognitive performance. Conclusions: Network analysis suggests that visual stimulation recruits large-scale cortical networks that extend far beyond the conventional visual streams and that differ between stimulation conditions. Significance: The method allows controlled recruitment of wide cortical networks, which holds promise for the early assessment of visual processing and its related higher-order cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2032-2040
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number8
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brain connectivity
  • Functional networks
  • Infant
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Visual evoked response
  • Visual system


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