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The increasingly efficient teenage brain

Changes in brain network connectivity may refine cognitive abilities that develop during adolescence

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Results from full-brain voxel-wise analysis. (4-1) Significant changes in EC associated with differentiation between task and rest across the age-span. Age-effect in the n-back data and (4-3) Age-effect in the... view more 

Credit: Kolskår et al., eNeuro (2018)

Some brain networks become more densely connected during adolescence while others become less so, according to a new analysis published in eNeuro of neuroimaging data collected from more than 700 children and adolescents from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. These changes in network connectivity may underlie the refinement of cognitive abilities that develop during the teenage years.

Although the human brain's default and executive networks are mostly developed by early childhood, the characteristics of key nodes, or hubs, in these networks continue to mature into adulthood. Many of these changes emerge during adolescence, a crucial transitional period with lasting influence on an individual's mental health.

Knut Kolskår, Lars Westlye, and colleagues examined the centrality of these hubs, or how widely and strongly they are connected with other parts of the network, among 8- to 22-year-olds at rest and during a working memory task. The researchers found that the centrality of executive network nodes increased with age while centrality of default network nodes decreased with age. Improved performance on the working memory task was associated with the differences in the connectivity of these networks, which may enhance information processing by reducing the interference of network nodes that may disrupt performance.

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Article: Key brain network nodes show differential cognitive relevance and developmental trajectories during childhood and adolescence
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0092-18.2018 Corresponding authors: Knut Kolskår, k.k.kolskar@psykologi.uio.no and Lars Westlye, l.t.westlye@psykologi.uio.no (Oslo University Hospital, Norway)

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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