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From Default Mode Network to the Basal Configuration: Sex Differences in the Resting-State Brain Connectivity as a Function of Age and Their Clinical Correlates.


Connectomics is a framework that models brain structure and function interconnectivity as a network, rather than narrowly focusing on select regions-of-interest. MRI-derived connectomes can be structural, usually based on diffusion-weighted MR imaging, or functional, usually formed by examining fMRI blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal correlations. Recently, we developed a novel method for assessing the hierarchical modularity of functional brain networks-the probability associated community estimation (PACE). PACE uniquely permits a dual formulation, thus yielding equivalent connectome modular structure regardless of whether positive or negative edges are considered. This method was rigorously validated using the 1,000 functional connectomes project data set (F1000, RRID:SCR_005361) (1) and the Human Connectome Project (HCP, RRID:SCR_006942) (2, 3) and we reported novel sex differences in resting-state connectivity not previously reported. (4) This study further examines sex differences in regard to hierarchical modularity as a function of age and clinical correlates, with findings supporting a basal configuration framework as a more nuanced and dynamic way of conceptualizing the resting-state connectome that is modulated by both age and sex. Our results showed that differences in connectivity between men and women in the 22-25 age range were not significantly different. However, these same non-significant differences attained significance in both the 26-30 age group (p = 0.003) and the 31-35 age group (p < 0.001). At the most global level, areas of diverging sex difference include parts of the prefrontal cortex and the temporal lobe, amygdala, hippocampus, inferior parietal lobule, posterior cingulate, and precuneus. Further, we identified statistically different self-reported summary scores of inattention, hyperactivity, and anxiety problems between men and women. These self-reports additionally divergently interact with age and the basal configuration between sexes.

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