The development of brain network hubs

Stuart Oldham, Alex Fornito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Some brain regions have a central role in supporting integrated brain function, marking them as network hubs. Given the functional importance of hubs, it is natural to ask how they emerge during development and to consider how they shape the function of the maturing brain. Here, we review evidence examining how brain network hubs, both in structural and functional connectivity networks, develop over the prenatal, neonate, childhood, and adolescent periods. The available evidence suggests that structural hubs of the brain arise in the prenatal period and show a consistent spatial topography through development, but undergo a protracted period of consolidation that extends into late adolescence. In contrast, the hubs of brain functional networks show a more variable topography, being predominantly located in primary cortical areas in early development, before moving to association areas by late childhood. These findings suggest that while the basic anatomical infrastructure of hubs may be established early, the functional viability and integrative capacity of these areas undergoes extensive postnatal maturation. Not all findings are consistent with this view however. We consider methodological factors that might drive these inconsistencies, and which should be addressed to promote a more rigorous investigation of brain network development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100607
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume36
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • hubs
  • brain networks
  • structural connectivity
  • brain development
  • functional connectivity
  • network development

Cite this

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The development of brain network hubs. / Oldham, Stuart; Fornito, Alex.

In: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 36, 100607, 04.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Fornito, Alex

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AB - Some brain regions have a central role in supporting integrated brain function, marking them as network hubs. Given the functional importance of hubs, it is natural to ask how they emerge during development and to consider how they shape the function of the maturing brain. Here, we review evidence examining how brain network hubs, both in structural and functional connectivity networks, develop over the prenatal, neonate, childhood, and adolescent periods. The available evidence suggests that structural hubs of the brain arise in the prenatal period and show a consistent spatial topography through development, but undergo a protracted period of consolidation that extends into late adolescence. In contrast, the hubs of brain functional networks show a more variable topography, being predominantly located in primary cortical areas in early development, before moving to association areas by late childhood. These findings suggest that while the basic anatomical infrastructure of hubs may be established early, the functional viability and integrative capacity of these areas undergoes extensive postnatal maturation. Not all findings are consistent with this view however. We consider methodological factors that might drive these inconsistencies, and which should be addressed to promote a more rigorous investigation of brain network development.

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