Structural network maturation of the preterm human brain

Tengda Zhao, Virendra Mishra, Tina Jeon, Minhui Ouyang, Qinmu Peng, Lina Chalak, Jessica Lee Wisnowski, Roy Heyne, Nancy Rollins, Ni Shu, Hao Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the 3rd trimester, large-scale of neural circuits are formed in the human brain, resulting in the adult-like brain networks at birth. However, how the brain circuits develop into a highly efficient and segregated connectome during this period is unknown. We hypothesized that faster increases of connectivity efficiency and strength at the brain hubs and rich-club are critical for emergence of an efficient and segregated brain connectome. Here, using high resolution diffusion MRI of 77 preterm-born and term-born neonates scanned at 31-42 postmenstrual weeks (PMW), we constructed the structural connectivity matrices and performed graph-theory-based analyses. We found faster increases of nodal efficiency mainly at the brain hubs, distributed in primary sensorimotor regions, superior-middle frontal and posterior cingulate gyrus during 31-42PMW. The rich-club and within-module connections were characterized by higher rates of edge strength increases. Edge strength of short-range connections increased faster than that of long-range connections. The nodal efficiencies of the hubs predicted individual postmenstrual ages more accurately than those of non-hubs. Collectively, these findings revealed regionally differentiated maturation in the baby brain structural connectome and more rapid increases of the hub and rich-club connections, which underlie network segregation and differentiated brain function emergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Sep 29 2017


  • baby connectome
  • brain maturation
  • diffusion MRI
  • segregation
  • structural connectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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