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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Dec;17(12):2760-8. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Quantitative diffusion tensor tractography of association and projection fibers in normally developing children and adolescents.

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Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Whole-brain diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) at high signal-to-noise ratio and angular and spatial resolutions were utilized to study the effects of age, sex differences, and lateral asymmetries of 6 white matter pathways (arcuate fasciculus [AF], inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus [IFOF], uncinate fasciculus [UF], corticospinal tract [CST], and somatosensory pathway [SS]) in 31 right-handed children (6-17 years). Fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of the orientational variance in water molecular diffusivity, and the magnitude of water diffusivity (parallel, perpendicular, and mean diffusivity) along the pathways were quantified. Three major patterns of maturation were observed: 1) significant increase in FA with age, accompanied by significant decreases in all 3 diffusivities (e.g., left IFOF); 2) significant decreases in all three diffusivities with age without significant changes in FA (e.g., left CST); and 3) no significant age-related changes in FA or diffusivity (e.g., SS). Sex differences were minimal. Many pathways showed lateral asymmetries. In the right hemisphere, the frontotemporal (FT) segment of AF was not visualized in a substantial (29%) number of participants. FA was higher in the left hemisphere in the FT segment of AF, UF, and CST, whereas it was lower in the frontoparietal segment of AF. This study provides normative data essential for the interpretation of pediatric brain DTT measurements in both health and disease.

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