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Cereb Cortex. 2018 Feb 1;28(2):750-763. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx313.

Walking, Gross Motor Development, and Brain Functional Connectivity in Infants and Toddlers.

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Department of Psychiatry,Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55455,USA.
Department of Educational Psychology,University of Minnesota, 56 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
Biomedical Imaging Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8700 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,University of Pennsylvania, Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104,USA.
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 101 Manning Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, 1701 NE Columbia Rd., Seattle, WA 98195-7920, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, 1E1 Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre (WMC), 8440 112 St NW, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2B7.
McConnell Brain Imaging Center, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, 3801 University St, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2B4.
Department of Radiology, University of Washington, 1410 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, WA 98195,USA.
Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1801 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19122,USA.
Tandon School of Engineering, New York University, 6 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA.
Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave, St Louis, MO 63110,USA.


Infant gross motor development is vital to adaptive function and predictive of both cognitive outcomes and neurodevelopmental disorders. However, little is known about neural systems underlying the emergence of walking and general gross motor abilities. Using resting state fcMRI, we identified functional brain networks associated with walking and gross motor scores in a mixed cross-sectional and longitudinal cohort of infants at high and low risk for autism spectrum disorder, who represent a dimensionally distributed range of motor function. At age 12 months, functional connectivity of motor and default mode networks was correlated with walking, whereas dorsal attention and posterior cingulo-opercular networks were implicated at age 24 months. Analyses of general gross motor function also revealed involvement of motor and default mode networks at 12 and 24 months, with dorsal attention, cingulo-opercular, frontoparietal, and subcortical networks additionally implicated at 24 months. These findings suggest that changes in network-level brain-behavior relationships underlie the emergence and consolidation of walking and gross motor abilities in the toddler period. This initial description of network substrates of early gross motor development may inform hypotheses regarding neural systems contributing to typical and atypical motor outcomes, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders associated with motor dysfunction.


functional connectivity; gross motor; infant; network; walking

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