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Topological segregation of functional networks increases in developing brains

By Wei A He, Paul F Sowman, Jon Brock, Andrew C Etchell, Cornelis J Stam, Arjan Hillebrand

Posted 27 Jul 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/378562

A growing literature conceptualises human brain development from a network perspective, but it remains unknown how functional brain networks are refined during the preschool years. The extant literature diverges in its characterisation of functional network development, with little agreement between haemodynamic- and electrophysiology-based measures. In children aged from 4 to 12 years, as well as adults, age appropriate magnetoencephalography was used to estimate unbiased network topology, using minimum spanning tree (MST) constructed from phase synchrony between beamformer-reconstructed time-series. During childhood, network topology becomes increasingly segregated, while cortical regions decrease in centrality. We propose a heuristic MST model, in which a clear developmental trajectory for the emergence of complex brain networks is delineated. Our results resolve topological reorganisation of functional networks across temporal and spatial scales in youth and fill a gap in the literature regarding neurophysiological mechanisms of functional brain maturation during the preschool years.

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