Blesa M, Galdi P, CoBlesa M, Galdi P, Cox SR, Sullivan G, Stoye DQ, Lamb GJ, Quigley AJ, Thrippleton MJ, Escudero J, Bastin ME, Smith KM, Boardman JP. Hierarchical Complexity of the Macro-Scale Neonatal Brain. Cereb Cortex. 2021;31(4):2071-2084. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa345
We often model the brain as a network where the nodes are different brain regions and links between nodes represent the wiring connecting brain regions. Hierarchical complexity is a property of networks that tells us how diverse the connections are between similar nodes. When we translate this property into the brain, we can study how different areas of the brain are interconnected. In this work we did exactly that, finding some interesting properties of the neonatal brain. The first thing we noticed is that the newborn brain resembles the adult brain in terms of how the areas are connected to each other, and the second is that prematurity affects this property in the most specialized areas of the brain. The most central areas (knows as hubs, because they are connected most other areas of the brain) have the same connections in term and preterm infants, but other more specialised areas have different connections in the preterm babies compared to the term born.