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J Child Neurol. 2011 Apr;26(4):488-500. doi: 10.1177/0883073810385345. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Network analysis: applications for the developing brain.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Development of the human brain follows a complex trajectory of age-specific anatomical and physiological changes. The application of network analysis provides an illuminating perspective on the dynamic interregional and global properties of this intricate and complex system. Here, we provide a critical synopsis of methods of network analysis with a focus on developing brain networks. After discussing basic concepts and approaches to network analysis, we explore the primary events of anatomical cortical development from gestation through adolescence. Upon this framework, we describe early work revealing the evolution of age-specific functional brain networks in normal neurodevelopment. Finally, we review how these relationships can be altered in disease and perhaps even rectified with treatment. While this method of description and inquiry remains in early form, there is already substantial evidence that the application of network models and analysis to understanding normal and abnormal human neural development holds tremendous promise for future discovery.

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