Functional brain imaging across development
European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 07/11/2012
Rubia K – Evidence suggests that throughout development between childhood and adulthood, there is progressive refinement and integration of both task–positive fronto–cortical and fronto–subcortical activation and task–negative deactivation, leading to a more mature and controlled cognition.
- The developmental cognitive neuroscience literature has grown exponentially over the last decade.
- This paper reviews the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) literature on brain function development of typically late developing functions of cognitive and motivation control, timing and attention as well as of resting state neural networks.
- Evidence shows that between childhood and adulthood, concomitant with cognitive maturation, there is progressively increased functional activation in task–relevant lateral and medial frontal, striatal and parieto–temporal brain regions that mediate these higher level control functions.
- This is accompanied by progressively stronger functional inter–regional connectivity within task–relevant fronto–striatal and fronto–parieto–temporal networks.
- Negative age associations are observed in earlier developing posterior and limbic regions, suggesting a shift with age from the recruitment of “bottom–up” processing regions towards “top–down” fronto–cortical and fronto–subcortical connections, leading to a more mature, supervised cognition.
- The resting state fMRI literature further complements this evidence by showing progressively stronger deactivation with age in anti–correlated task–negative resting state networks, which is associated with better task performance.
- Furthermore, connectivity analyses during the resting state show that with development increasingly stronger long–range connections are being formed, for example, between fronto–parietal and fronto–cerebellar connections, in both task–positive networks and in task–negative default mode networks, together with progressively lesser short–range connections, suggesting progressive functional integration and segregation with age.