Developmental Changes in Topological Asymmetry Between Hemispheric Brain White Matter Networks from Adolescence to Young Adulthood

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Human brain asymmetries have been well described. Intriguingly, a number of asymmetries in brain phenotypes have been shown to change throughout the lifespan. Recent studies have revealed topological asymmetries between hemispheric white matter networks in the human brain. However, it remains unknown whether and how these topological asymmetries evolve from adolescence to young adulthood, a critical period that constitutes the second peak of human brain and cognitive development. To address this question, the present study included a large cohort of healthy adolescents and young adults. Diffusion and structural magnetic resonance imaging were acquired to construct hemispheric white matter networks, and graph-theory was applied to quantify topological parameters of the hemispheric networks. In both adolescents and young adults, rightward asymmetry in both global and local network efficiencies was consistently observed between the 2 hemispheres, but the degree of the asymmetry was significantly decreased in young adults. At the nodal level, the young adults exhibited less rightward asymmetry of nodal efficiency mainly around the parasylvian area, posterior tempo-parietal cortex, and fusiform gyrus. These developmental patterns of network asymmetry provide novel insight into the human brain structural development from adolescence to young adulthood and also likely relate to the maturation of language and social cognition that takes place during this period.

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