The Development of Hub Architecture in the Human Functional Brain Network

by Kai Hwang, Michael N. Hallquist and Beatriz Luna

 

Abstract

Functional hubs are brain regions that play a crucial role in facilitating communication among parallel, distributed brain networks. The developmental emergence and stability of hubs, however, is not well understood. The current study used measures of network topology drawn from graph theory to investigate the development of functional hubs in 99 participants, 10–20 years of age. We found that hub architecture was evident in late childhood and was stable from adolescence to early adulthood. Connectivity between hub and non-hub (“spoke”) regions, however, changed with development. From childhood to adolescence, the strength of connections between frontal hubs and cortical and subcortical spoke regions increased. From adolescence to adulthood, hub–spoke connections with frontal hubs were stable, whereas connectivity between cerebellar hubs and cortical spoke regions increased. Our findings suggest that a developmentally stable functional hub architecture provides the foundation of information flow in the brain, whereas connections between hubs and spokes continue to develop, possibly supporting mature cognitive function.

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