Functional network integration and attention skills in young children

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Children acquire attention skills rapidly during early childhood as their brains undergo vast neural development. Attention is well studied in the adult brain, yet due to the challenges associated with scanning young children, investigations in early childhood are sparse. Here, we examined the relationship between age, attention and functional connectivity (FC) during passive viewing in multiple intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) in 60 typically developing girls between 4 and 7 years whose sustained, selective and executive attention skills were assessed. Visual, auditory, sensorimotor, default mode (DMN), dorsal attention (DAN), ventral attention (VAN), salience, and frontoparietal ICNs were identified via Independent Component Analysis and subjected to a dual regression. Individual spatial maps were regressed against age and attention skills, controlling for age. All ICNs except the VAN showed regions of increasing FC with age. Attention skills were associated with FC in distinct networks after controlling for age: selective attention positively related to FC in the DAN; sustained attention positively related to FC in visual and auditory ICNs; and executive attention positively related to FC in the DMN and visual ICN. These findings suggest distributed network integration across this age range and highlight how multiple ICNs contribute to attention skills in early childhood.




Rohr, C. S., Arora, A., Cho, I. Y. K., Katlariwala, P., Dimond, D., Dewey, D., & Bray, S. (2018). Functional network integration and attention skills in young children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 30, 200–211.

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