Development of Anterior Cingulate Functional Connectivity from Late Childhood to Early Adulthood


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Abstract

Human cerebral development is remarkably protracted. Although microstructural processes of neuronal maturation remain accessible only to morphometric post-mortem studies, neuroimaging tools permit the examination of macrostructural aspects of brain development. The analysis of resting-state functional connectivity (FC) offers novel possibilities for the investigation of cerebral development. Using seed-based FC methods, we examined the development of 5 functionally distinct cingulate-based intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) in children (n=14, 10.6 ± 1.5 years), adolescents (n=12, 15.4 ± 1.2) and young adults (n=14, 22.4 ± 1.2). Children demonstrated a more diffuse pattern of correlation with voxels proximal to the seed region of interest (ROI) (“local FC”), whereas adults exhibited more focal patterns of FC, as well as a greater number of significantly correlated voxels at long distances from the seed ROI. Adolescents exhibited intermediate patterns of FC. Consistent with evidence for different maturational time courses, ICNs associated with social and emotional functions exhibited the greatest developmental effects. Our findings demonstrate the utility of FC for the study of developing functional organization. Moreover, given that ICNs are thought to have an anatomical basis in neuronal connectivity, measures of FC may provide a quantitative index of brain maturation in healthy subjects and those with neurodevelopmental disorders.

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