October 22, 2020

Brain Connectivity Patterns in Children Linked to Neurocognitive Abilities

The development of objective brain-based measures of individual differences in psychological traits is a longstanding goal of clinical neuroscience. Here we show that reliable objective markers of children’s neurocognitive abilities can be built from measures of brain connectivity. The sample consists of 5,937 9- and 10-year-olds in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development multi-site study with high-quality functional connectomes that capture brain-wide connectivity. Using multivariate methods, we built predictive neuromarkers for a general factor of neurocognitive ability as well as for a number of specific cognitive abilities (e.g., spatial reasoning, working memory). Neuromarkers for the general neurocognitive factor successfully predicted scores for held-out participants at 19 out of 19 held-out sites, explaining over 14% of the variance in their scores. Neuromarkers for specific neurocognitive abilities also exhibited statistically reliable generalization to new participants. This study provides the strongest evidence to date that objective quantification of psychological traits is possible with functional neuroimaging.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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