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Ashley Ealey

Summer Research Description: The connections between regions of a child's brain can influence how they progress in learning. Recent work in functional connectivity has shown that brain areas create “communities” that have similar patterns of activity (Bullmore & Spoon, 2009). Some communities serve as highly inter-connected “hubs”. However, it is unknown how these hubs change over time within the same individual. Four children (2 female) had resting-state functional MRI scans in the summers before entering first grade and fourth grade. fMRI data were slice time, motion corrected and normalized to a standard template in FSL. Using regions of interest from a previous fMRI study of reading (Turkeltaub et al., 2003), we used an Infomap algorithm to identify the community structure for each scan (Power et al., 2013). We then compared graph theory metrics such as density and robustness for hub communities, as well as their location. The results from this preliminary analysis will help us further understand how the community structure of reading-related areas changes with development. This in turn will lead to a better understanding of how the community structure of the brain facilitates cognitive functions such as reading.