Human brain Functioning

Image for unlabelled figureWe study topological organization changes of functional connectome in ages 7–85.

The functional connectome exhibits linear decreases of modularity over the lifespan.

Both rich-club and local organization have inverted-U shaped lifespan trajectories.

Heterogeneous age effects are mainly localized to hub regions.

Connectivity reorganization over lifespan is anatomically distance-dependent.

Human brain function undergoes complex transformations across the lifespan. We employed resting-state functional MRI and graph-theory approaches to systematically chart the lifespan trajectory of the topological organization of human whole-brain functional networks in 126 healthy individuals ranging in age from 7 to 85 years. Brain networks were constructed by computing Pearson's correlations in blood-oxygenation-level-dependent temporal fluctuations among 1024 parcellation units followed by graph-based network analyses. We observed that the human brain functional connectome exhibited highly preserved non-random modular and rich club organization over the entire age range studied. Further quantitative analyses revealed linear decreases in modularity and inverted-U shaped trajectories of local efficiency and rich club architecture. Regionally heterogeneous age effects were mainly located in several hubs (e.g., default network, dorsal attention regions). Finally, we observed inverse trajectories of long- and short-distance functional connections, indicating that the reorganization of connectivity concentrates and distributes the brain's functional networks. Our results demonstrate topological changes in the whole-brain functional connectome across nearly the entire human lifespan, providing insights into the neural substrates underlying individual variations in behavior and cognition. These results have important implications for disease connectomics because they provide a baseline for evaluating network impairments in age-related neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords

  • Functional connectomics;
  • Lifespan trajectory;
  • Rich club;
  • Graph theory

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