The development of human amygdala functional connectivity at rest from 4 to 23 years: A cross-sectional study

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Abstract

Functional connections (FC) between the amygdala and cortical and subcortical regions underlie a range of affective and cognitive processes. Despite the central role amygdala networks have in these functions, the normative developmental emergence of FC between the amygdala and the rest of the brain is still largely undefined. This study employed amygdala subregion maps and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the typical development of human amygdala FC from age 4 to 23 years old (n = 58). Amygdala FC with subcortical and limbic regions was largely stable across this developmental period. However, three cortical regions exhibited age-dependent changes in FC: amygdala FC with the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) increased with age, amygdala FC with a region including the insula and superior temporal sulcus decreased with age, and amygdala FC with a region encompassing the parahippocampal gyrus and posterior cingulate also decreased with age. The transition from childhood to adolescence (around age 10 years) marked an important change-point in the nature of amygdala–cortical FC. We distinguished unique developmental patterns of coupling for three amygdala subregions and found particularly robust convergence of FC for all subregions with the mPFC. These findings suggest that there are extensive changes in amygdala–cortical functional connectivity that emerge between childhood and adolescence.

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