JOURNAL ARTICLE

White matter development during childhood and adolescence: a cross-sectional diffusion tensor imaging study

Naama Barnea-Goraly, Vinod Menon, Mark Eckert, Leanne Tamm, Roland Bammer, Asya Karchemskiy, Christopher C Dant, Allan L Reiss
Cerebral Cortex 2005, 15 (12): 1848-54
15758200
Maturation of brain white matter pathways is an important factor in cognitive, behavioral, emotional and motor development during childhood and adolescence. In this study, we investigate white matter maturation as reflected by changes in anisotropy and white matter density with age. Thirty-four children and adolescents aged 6-19 years received diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans. Among these, 30 children and adolescents also received high-resolution T1-weighed anatomical scans. A linear regression model was used to correlate fractional anisotropy (FA) values with age on a voxel-by-voxel basis. Within the regions that showed significant FA changes with age, a post hoc analysis was performed to investigate white matter density changes. With increasing age, FA values increased in prefrontal regions, in the internal capsule as well as in basal ganglia and thalamic pathways, the ventral visual pathways, and the corpus callosum. The posterior limb of the internal capsule, intrathalamic connections, and the corpus callosum showed the most significant overlaps between white matter density and FA changes with age. This study demonstrates that during childhood and adolescence, white matter anisotropy changes in brain regions that are important for attention, motor skills, cognitive ability, and memory. This typical developmental trajectory may be altered in individuals with disorders of development, cognition and behavior.

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