A study has shown that a brain network linked to
introspection happens to be less intricate and well-connected in children as
compared to adults.
Damien A. Fair, a postgraduate student who led the study,
compared functional connectivity in 13 brain regions linked to the default
network in children ages seven to nine and adults ages 21 to 31.
"The difference between children and adults is
profound. In a graph depicting the strength of connections between the brain
regions we studied, children's minds have just a few connections between some
regions, while the adult brains have a web-like mesh of many different
interconnecting links involving all the regions," Fair says.
The research team used a new technique called resting-state
functional connectivity MRI to identify brain networks and analyse their
Dr. Bradley L. Schlaggar, an associate professor in whose
guidance Fair carried out the study, says that he is now planning to study how
the brain networks interact during development and in the mature brain.
He is also planning to study how network functions differ in
patients with brain injuries and conditions such as autism.
"Autism spectrum disorder first manifests earlier than
the time period we were studying," Schlaggar says.
"But many of the functions it affects have been
associated with the default network, so we're eager to see if analysis of this
network and its development can give us new insights into autism," he
The results of the current appear online this week in
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.