DC and VMHC are two commonly used indexes to study brain networks. DC reflects the centrality of the brain region in the whole brain. The higher the degree of centrality, the more connections it has with other brain regions, and the more important it is in the whole brain18. VMHC reflects the connection strength of homotopic brain regions in the whole brain. The more coincident the bilateral homotopic regions are, the higher the values of VMHC are19. In this study, we used these two indexes to study the brain network in hypoxia children, in order to find the early indicators for the assessment of attentional cognitive impairment.
This study found that the correct number of CPT in asthma children was significantly lower than normal children, and the reaction time in asthma children was significantly longer than normal children. The CPT results suggested asthma children existed attention deficit, which was consistent with previous studies20,21. In order to further research the brain mechanisms of asthma's attention deficit, the brain network analysis methods of fMRI were used in the study.
This study found that the DC value of right superior frontal gyrus in asthma children was lower than that in normal children, and the VMHC value between left and right superior frontal gyrus was lower than that in normal children. The superior frontal gyrus, located in the upper prefrontal lobe, has long been considered as a complex cellular area22. The superior frontal gyrus has been reported to be involved in many cognitive and motor control tasks, especially the posterior superior frontal gyrus which contains the supplementary motor area and is mainly involved in motor tasks 23,24. The lateral part of superior frontal gyrus is mainly involved in executive task and attentional task in working memory25,26. The medial part of the superior frontal gyrus, which is activated during cognition-related tasks, is part of the default network27,28. Studies have found that DMN is involved in the regulation of attention and cognitive behavior. When performing attention-related tasks, DMN brain regions are activated. DMN activity antagonizes dorsal attention network, which also reflects the influence of DMN on attentional cognition. When the human brain is completing a specific task, more attention is used to concentrate on the task, and the functional activity of DMN decreases. While in the resting state, when no specific task is performed, the attention is more used to observe the external environment, and the functional activity of DMN is significantly increased, which enables the "monitoring" and "exploration" of the environment29,30. In this study, the DC value of the right superior frontal gyrus and the VMHC value of asthma children between the bilateral superior frontal gyrus were both lower than normal children, which also reflected the effect of this default network brain region on attentional cognition. In asthma children, the functional connection between the right superior frontal gyrus and other brain regions was decreased, as well as the VMHC between the two sides of the superior frontal gyrus was decreased, which weakened the effect of the superior frontal gyrus on attentional cognition, leading to the impairment of attentional cognition in asthma children.
The VMHC value of bilateral superior parietal lobule of asthma children was lower than normal children. The superior parietal lobule is an important node of the dorsal attention network, which has similar functions with the intraparietal suleus, the core brain region of the dorsal attention network, receiving visual information input and participating in the regulation of spatial orientation. Specifically, the intrapietal sulcus is mainly involved in the endogenous attention shift caused by the change of target features but unchanged spatial position, while the superior parietal lobule is mainly related to the exogenous attention shift caused by the target spatial movement31,32,33. The dorsal attention network, also known as the visuospatial attention network, is responsible for the management of spatial attention and visual movement, and participates in the top-down (endogenous) goal-oriented attention orientation34. The dorsal attention network is involved in attentional switching and spatial attention control during the adjustment of visual attention function35. Therefore, as an important component of the dorsal attention network, the superior parietal lobule is directly related to attentional cognition. In this study, the VMHC value of bilateral superior parietal lobule in asthma was lower than normal children, also confirmed that the attentional deficit in asthma children was associated with the functional impairment of the superior parietal lobule. The functional connection between the two homotopy brain regions was weakened, which impaired the function of the superior parietal lobule to regulate attention and could not accurately complete the exogenous attention transfer, leading to the decrease of the attention level of asthma children.
In conclusion, this study found that the attentional behavior of asthma children was lower than that of normal children, and the impaired functions of superior frontal gyrus and superior parietal lobule were related to the attention deficit of asthma children. This study explored the possible mechanism of attention deficit in asthmatic children through the study of brain network, and found that the attention dificit was related to the damage of the key nodes of the default network and the dorsal attention network. This study will provide objective indicators for the evaluation of attention in asthmat children and provide scientific basis for early clinical intervention.