The period immediately after birth is a critical developmental window, capturing rapid maturation of brain structure and a child's earliest experiences. Large-scale brain systems are present at delivery, but how these brain systems mature during this narrow window (i.e. first weeks of life) marked by heightened neuroplasticity remains uncharted. Using multivariate pattern classification techniques and functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging, we detected robust differences in brain systems related to age in newborns (n = 262; R2 = 0.51). Development over the first month of life occurred brain-wide, but differed and was more pronounced in brain systems previously characterized as developing early (i.e. sensorimotor networks) than in those characterized as developing late (i.e. association networks). The cingulo-opercular network was the only exception to this organizing principle, illuminating its early role in brain development. This study represents a step towards a normative brain "growth curve"that could be used to identify atypical brain maturation in infancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2788-2803
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2023


  • development
  • fMRI
  • functional connectivity
  • infant
  • machine learning


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