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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2005 Jan;26(1):45-9.

MR quantitation of volume and diffusion changes in the developing brain.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Brain volume and diffusion change during maturation. Quantitation of these changes may be helpful in understanding normal brain development. We used diffusion-weighted imaging to characterize the volumetric and diffusion changes in vivo.


We recruited 30 pediatric volunteers (aged 1 month-17 years; 14 male, 16 female). Diffusion was measured in three orthogonal directions with a b value of 1000 s/mm2. The diffusion parameters from the entire brain were calculated and fitted to a triple gaussian model. In addition, region-of-interest measurements were made in caudate, thalamus, genu and splenium of the corpus callosum, and periventricular white matter (PVWM). The brain volume was measured by counting pixels and by using the model.


Water diffusion of the whole brain, caudate, thalamus, genu and splenium of the corpus callosum, and PVWM decreased during maturation, with the most significant change within the first 2 years. Robust negative correlations were found between age and the measured average diffusion constant (Dav) values in each of the measured locations (P <.005). Volumes of different cerebral compartments and the total intracranial volume (ICV) increased rapidly during the first 2 years of life and then had a slower growth process through adolescence. Age was correlated with the ICV and the volume of each brain compartment (P <.005).


Brain diffusion decreases and brain volume increases during maturation, with the most significant changes occurring within the first 2 years of life. The brain model used in this study provides a good estimate of the increasing brain volume.

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