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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(6):718-29. Epub 2006 Aug 2.

Brain development in children and adolescents: insights from anatomical magnetic resonance imaging.

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  • 1Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Building 10, Room 4C110, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20854, USA.


Advances in neuroimaging have ushered in a new era of developmental neuroscience. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is particularly well suited for pediatric studies because it does not use ionizing radiation which enables safe longitudinal scans of healthy children. Key findings related to brain anatomical changes during childhood and adolescent are increases in white matter volumes throughout the brain and regionally specific inverted U-shaped trajectories of gray matter volumes. Brain morphometric measures are highly variable across individuals and there is considerable overlap amongst groups of boys versus girls, typically developing versus neuropsychiatric populations, and young versus old. Studies are ongoing to explore the influences of genetic and environmental factors on developmental trajectories.

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