Hot Publication - Luna & Colleagues

The Contribution of Network Organization and Integration to the Development of Cognitive Control
Marek S, Hwang K, Foran W, Hallquist WN and Luna
BPLOS Biology, Published Online

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. 

Working with his mentor, Dr. Beatriz Luna, and others in the Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development, graduate student Scott Marek 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.  The investigators studied 192 10 to 26-year-olds who were imaged during five minutes of rest. In contrast to initial studies, their 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 cinguloopercular/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. These findings also 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.

Beatriz Luna, PhD and William Foran, MS (Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)

Scott Marek, BS (Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh)

Michael N. Hallquist, PhD  (Department of Psychology, Penn State University)

Kai Hwang, PhD (Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley)

This article appears in the journal PLOS Biology.  Click here to view the abstract.