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New Insights Into Brain Development Through Thalamocortical Connectivity

June 26, 2024

Child Mind Institute-Led Study Reveals the Shifting Role of Thalamocortical Connectivity in Brain Development

New York, NY – Shinwon Park, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Autism Center at the Child Mind Institute, leads the charge in a groundbreaking study on the role of thalamocortical connectivity in brain development. Dr. Park and her team published an article that describes key findings of their research in Nature Neuroscience June 10, 2024. Along with Koen V. Haak, PhD, of Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and Stuart Oldham, PhD, of Monash University, Australia, six researchers from the Child Mind Institute are involved in this work: Kyoungseob Byeon, PhD, Phoebe Thomson, PhD, Ting Xu, PhD, Michael P. Milham, MD, PhD, Adriana Di Martino, PhD, and Seok-Jun Hong, PhD.

The study provides new insights into the role of thalamocortical connectivity in the development of cortical functional organization. It highlights how this connectivity evolves from infancy through young adulthood, contributing to the emergence and specialization of a large-scale brain network.


The human brain undergoes complex development from conception, initially forming a simple neural tube that eventually gives rise to the characteristic structure of the neocortex. Understanding how this translates to functional specialization has been a long-standing question in neuroscience. The latest research by Park et al. explores this phenomenon by examining age-dependent differences in resting-state thalamocortical connectivity.

Using a combination of cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches, the researchers investigated the role of thalamocortical connectivity in early life. Their findings demonstrate that during infancy, thalamocortical connectivity reflects early differentiation of sensorimotor networks influenced by genetic axonal projection. As children grow, this connectivity shifts to include the salience network, while decoupling externally and internally oriented functional systems.

Key Findings:

  • Infancy: Thalamocortical connectivity is primarily associated with sensorimotor networks and genetically influenced axonal projections.
  • Childhood to Young Adulthood: The connectivity evolves to establish connections with the salience network, crucial for differentiating between externally and internally oriented systems.
  • Generative Network Models: Simulations using generative network models confirmed that thalamic connectivity plays a significant role in developing key features of the mature brain, such as functional segregation and the sensory-association axis.

Implications: These findings suggest that the thalamus is integral to the functional specialization of the brain during development. This research offers potential implications for understanding and studying developmental conditions characterized by atypical internal and external processing, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Quotes: “Our study provides a detailed map of how thalamocortical connectivity contributes to the functional organization of the brain from infancy through young adulthood,” said Dr. Park. “These insights could pave the way for new approaches to studying and potentially treating developmental brain disorders.”

Further Information: For more details, the full study can be accessed through the following link

Contact Information: Seok-Jun Hong, Ph.D.,


Nature Neuroscience is a leading scientific journal that publishes research articles across all areas of neuroscience, aiming to present the most significant advances in the field.


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