Short-range connections in the developmental connectome during typical and atypical brain maturation

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The human brain is remarkably complex with connectivity constituting its basic organizing principle. Although long-range connectivity has been focused on in most research, short-range connectivity is characterized by unique and spatiotemporally heterogeneous dynamics from infancy to adulthood. Alterations in the maturational dynamics of short-range connectivity has been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques, especially diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI), resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), have made quantification of short-range connectivity possible in pediatric populations. This review summarizes findings on the development of short-range functional and structural connections at the macroscale. These findings suggest an inverted U-shaped pattern of maturation from primary to higher-order brain regions, and possible “hyper-” and “hypo-” short-range connections in autism and schizophrenia, respectively. The precisely balanced short- and long-range connections contribute to the integration and segregation of the connectome during development. The mechanistic relationship among short-range connectivity maturation, the developmental connectome and emerging brain functions needs further investigation, including the refinement of methodological approaches.

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