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PLoS Biol. 2015 Dec 29;13(12):e1002328. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002328. eCollection 2015 Dec.

The Contribution of Network Organization and Integration to the Development of Cognitive Control.

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Center for Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States of America.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Cognitive control, which continues to mature throughout adolescence, is supported by the ability for well-defined organized brain networks to flexibly integrate information. However, the development of intrinsic brain network organization and its relationship to observed improvements in cognitive control are not well understood. In the present study, we used resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (RS-fMRI), graph theory, the antisaccade task, and rigorous head motion control to characterize and relate developmental changes in network organization, connectivity strength, and integration to inhibitory control development. Subjects were 192 10-26-y-olds who were imaged during 5 min of rest. In contrast to initial studies, our results indicate that network organization is stable throughout adolescence. However, cross-network integration, predominantly of the cingulo-opercular/salience network, increased with age. Importantly, this increased integration of the cingulo-opercular/salience network significantly moderated the robust effect of age on the latency to initiate a correct inhibitory control response. These results provide compelling evidence that the transition to adult-level inhibitory control is dependent upon the refinement and strengthening of integration between specialized networks. Our findings support a novel, two-stage model of neural development, in which networks stabilize prior to adolescence and subsequently increase their integration to support the cross-domain incorporation of information processing critical for mature cognitive control.

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