Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Section for Biomedical Image Analysis (SBIA)

Patterns of coordinated cortical development in adolescence

The adolescent human cortex experiences substantial remodeling to support a range of behaviors, and although quantifying these changes is important for understanding normal brain development and psychiatric disorders, past research has been hampered by small sample sizes and analytics that do not evaluate complex multivariate imaging patterns. Towards complementing prior studies,  Aristeidis Sotiras and colleagues used non-negative matrix factorization (NMF), an advanced multivariate technique, to study coordinated patterns of cortical development in a sample of 934 youths, 8-20 years in age, who completed structural neuroimaging as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. We found that patterns of structural variability in the networks derived from NMF differed substantially from typical anatomical representations using cortical gyri and sulci. Importantly, we showed that the NMF-derived patterns were associated with specific functional brain networks, in an order that diminished with increasing functional complexity and evolutionary hierarchy. Moreover, patterns in higher-order association cortex networks incurred greater change with age than patterns in lower-order visual and somatomotor networks.  Taken together, our results delineate a novel set of structural brain networks that undergo coordinated cortical thinning during adolescence, which is in part governed by evolutionary novelty and functional specialization.

Estimated patterns of coordinated cortical remodeling are color-coded and overlaid over the lateral view of the left hemisphere along with the respective scatterplots of the age effect with the best fitting regression model (linear and quadratic models of age were examined). The axes for every graph are identical to facilitate comparison.


  1. Sotiras, A., Resnick, S. M., & Davatzikos, C. (2015). Finding imaging patterns of structural covariance via Non-Negative Matrix Factorization. NeuroImage, 108, 1-16. PMCID: PMC4357179
  2. Sotiras, A., Toledo, J. B., Gur, R. C., Gur, R. E., Satterthwaite, T. D., & Davatzikos, C. (2017). Patterns of coordinated cortical remodeling during adolescence: associations with functional specialization and evolutionary expansion. Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences. In Press 2017. PMCID In Progress.