Get access

Brain connectivity during verbal working memory in children and adolescents

Authors

  • Gerbrich E. van den Bosch,

    1. Intensive Care and Department of Pediatric Surgery, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hanan El Marroun,

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marcus N. Schmidt,

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dick Tibboel,

    1. Intensive Care and Department of Pediatric Surgery, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dara S. Manoach,

    1. Neuroimaging Division, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Vince D. Calhoun,

    1. The Mind Research Network and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Tonya J.H. White

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Radiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Working memory (WkM) is a fundamental cognitive process that serves as a building block for higher order cognitive functions. While studies have shown that children and adolescents utilize similar brain regions during verbal WkM, there have been few studies that evaluate the developmental differences in brain connectivity. Our goal was to study the development of brain connectivity related to verbal WkM in typically developing children and adolescents. Thirty-five healthy children and adolescents, divided into three groups: 9–12 (children), 13–16 (young adolescents), and 17–19 (older adolescents) years, were included in this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. The verbal WkM task involved a modified Sternberg item recognition paradigm using three different loads. Brain connectivity analysis was performed using independent component analyses and regressing the components with the design matrix to determine task-related networks. Connectivity analyses resulted in four components associated solely with encoding, four solely with recognition and two with both. Two networks demonstrated age-related differences with respect to load, (1) the left motor area and right cerebellum, and 2) the left prefrontal cortex, left parietal lobe, and right cerebellum. Post hoc analyses revealed that the first network showed significant effects of age between children and the two older groups. There was increasing connectivity with increasing load for adolescents. The second network demonstrated age-related differences between children and older adolescents. Children have higher task-related connectivity at lower loads, but they tend to equalize with the adolescents with higher loads. Finally, a non-load related network involving the orbital frontal and anterior cingulate cortices showed less connectivity in children. Hum Brain Mapp 35:698–711, 2014. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary