Poster B114, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Age predicts Changes in Functional Networks in Early Childhood: Integration of Sensory and Cognitive Networks
Christiane Rohr1, Anish Arora1, Ivy Cho1, Kari Parsons1, Prayash Katlariwala1, Dennis Dimond1, Deborah Dewey1, Signe Bray1; 1The University of Calgary, Canada
Early childhood is a period of profound neural development and remodeling during which cognitive skills undergo rapid maturation. Over the past decade, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has enabled the examination of functional brain networks in children as they mature. Yet, due to the challenges associated with scanning young children, studies in early childhood are sparse. Here, we examined the relationship between age and functional connectivity in five common networks in 41 female children between 4-7y (mean=5.31; SD=0.76). Following training in an MRI simulator, children freely watched clips from ‘Elmo’s World’ in a 3T GE750w scanner. 35 components were extracted from their fMRI data using FSL’s MELODIC. Among these, the default mode (DMN), salience, visual, sensorimotor and dorsal attention networks were identified as explaining the most variance, and used for further analysis. A dual regression (as outlined by Jolles et al.; Cereb.Cortex 2011) resulted in a set of participant-specific spatial maps for each network. We then tested for linear age effects in these networks, thresholded at p<0.01 family-wise error corrected. All five networks showed increasing connectivity with age, particularly in the core regions of each network. For instance, the anterior cingulate and the precuneus showed increased connectivity within the DMN. These results extend earlier work by Jolles et al (2011), who found that children had greater connectivity only in cognitive networks as compared to adults. Our findings highlight the profound network integration that occurs across this age range, and add to our understanding of early childhood development of brain networks.
Topic Area: NEUROANATOMY