Networks form as brains develop

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A rendering of the structural connections in the brain of a 21-year-old male subject.
Credit: Penn Medicine

As children grow up – moving through adolescence and into young adulthood – their ability to control their impulses, stay organised and make decisions improves dramatically.

According to a new study published in Current Biology, those improvements result from the development of distinct networks within the brain.

In adolescence the brain networks become increasingly divided into distinct parts, called modules. Modules are parts of a network that are tightly connected to each other, and less connected to other parts of the network. The new evidence shows that the degree to which executive function develops during this period in part depends on the degree to which these modules are present.

Researcher Graham Baum says the results show the brain uses “specialized units that can work together to support advanced cognitive abilities”.

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