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Brain development during childhood and adolescence: a longitudinal MRI study


Pediatric neuroimaging studies1,2,3,4,5, up to now exclusively cross sectional, identify linear decreases in cortical gray matter and increases in white matter across ages 4 to 20. In this large-scale longitudinal pediatric neuroimaging study, we confirmed linear increases in white matter, but demonstrated nonlinear changes in cortical gray matter, with a preadolescent increase followed by a postadolescent decrease. These changes in cortical gray matter were regionally specific, with developmental curves for the frontal and parietal lobe peaking at about age 12 and for the temporal lobe at about age 16, whereas cortical gray matter continued to increase in the occipital lobe through age 20.

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Figure 1: Predicted size with 95% confidence intervals for cortical gray matter in frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes for 243 scans from 89 males and 56 females, ages 4 to 22 years.


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Correspondence to Jay N. Giedd.

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Giedd, J., Blumenthal, J., Jeffries, N. et al. Brain development during childhood and adolescence: a longitudinal MRI study. Nat Neurosci 2, 861–863 (1999).

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