The development of human functional brain networks

Neuron. 2010 Sep 9;67(5):735-48. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.08.017.


Recent advances in MRI technology have enabled precise measurements of correlated activity throughout the brain, leading to the first comprehensive descriptions of functional brain networks in humans. This article reviews the growing literature on the development of functional networks, from infancy through adolescence, as measured by resting-state functional connectivity MRI. We note several limitations of traditional approaches to describing brain networks and describe a powerful framework for analyzing networks, called graph theory. We argue that characterization of the development of brain systems (e.g., the default mode network) should be comprehensive, considering not only relationships within a given system, but also how these relationships are situated within wider network contexts. We note that, despite substantial reorganization of functional connectivity, several large-scale network properties appear to be preserved across development, suggesting that functional brain networks, even in children, are organized in manners similar to other complex systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / growth & development*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development*