Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 224, Issue 2, pp 535–551 | Cite as

Age-dynamic networks and functional correlation for early white matter myelination

  • Xiongtao DaiEmail author
  • Hans-Georg Müller
  • Jane-Ling Wang
  • Sean C. L. Deoni
Original Article


The maturation of the myelinated white matter throughout childhood is a critical developmental process that underlies emerging connectivity and brain function. In response to genetic influences and neuronal activities, myelination helps establish the mature neural networks that support cognitive and behavioral skills. The emergence and refinement of brain networks, traditionally investigated using functional imaging data, can also be interrogated using longitudinal structural imaging data. However, few studies of structural network development throughout infancy and early childhood have been presented, likely owing to the sparse and irregular nature of most longitudinal neuroimaging data, which complicates dynamic analysis. Here, we overcome this limitation and investigate through concurrent correlation the co-development of white matter myelination and volume, and structural network development of white matter myelination between brain regions as a function of age, using statistically well-supported methods. We show that the concurrent correlation of white matter myelination and volume is overall positive and reaches a peak at 580 days. Brain regions are found to differ in overall magnitudes and patterns of time-varying association throughout early childhood. We introduce time-dynamic developmental networks based on temporal similarity of association patterns in the levels of myelination across brain regions. These networks reflect groups of brain regions that share similar patterns of evolving intra-regional connectivity, as evidenced by levels of myelination, are biologically interpretable and provide novel visualizations of brain development. Comparing the constructed networks between different maternal education groups, we found that children with higher and lower maternal education differ significantly in the overall magnitude of the time-dynamic correlations.


Whole brain MRI Myelination Developmental network Concurrent correlation structure 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DMS-1407852, DMS-1512975), the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01 MH087510), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP11002016).

Supplementary material

429_2018_1785_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2459 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of StatisticsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of StatisticsUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Advanced Baby Imaging LabBrown University School of EngineeringProvidenceUSA

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