October 2019, Vol. 31, No. 10, Pages 1506-1519
Developmental Maturation of the Precuneus as a Functional Core of the Default Mode Network
Efforts to map the functional architecture of the developing human brain have shown that connectivity between and within functional neural networks changes from childhood to adulthood. Although prior work has established that the adult precuneus distinctively modifies its connectivity during task versus rest states [Utevsky, A. V., Smith, D. V., & Huettel, S. A. Precuneus is a functional core of the default-mode network. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 932–940, 2014], it remains unknown how these connectivity patterns emerge over development. Here, we use fMRI data collected at two longitudinal time points from over 250 participants between the ages of 8 and 26 years engaging in two cognitive tasks and a resting-state scan. By applying independent component analysis to both task and rest data, we identified three canonical networks of interest—the rest-based default mode network and the task-based left and right frontoparietal networks (LFPN and RFPN, respectively)—which we explored for developmental changes using dual regression analyses. We found systematic state-dependent functional connectivity in the precuneus, such that engaging in a task (compared with rest) resulted in greater precuneus–LFPN and precuneus–RFPN connectivity, whereas being at rest (compared with task) resulted in greater precuneus–default mode network connectivity. These cross-sectional results replicated across both tasks and at both developmental time points. Finally, we used longitudinal mixed models to show that the degree to which precuneus distinguishes between task and rest states increases with age, due to age-related increasing segregation between precuneus and LFPN at rest. Our results highlight the distinct role of the precuneus in tracking processing state, in a manner that is both present throughout and strengthened across development.