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Neuroimage. 2008 Apr 15;40(3):1044-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.053. Epub 2008 Jan 11.

Microstructural maturation of the human brain from childhood to adulthood.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Room 1098 Research Transition Facility, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2V2.


Brain maturation is a complex process that continues well beyond infancy, and adolescence is thought to be a key period of brain rewiring. To assess structural brain maturation from childhood to adulthood, we charted brain development in subjects aged 5 to 30 years using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging, a novel brain imaging technique that is sensitive to axonal packing and myelination and is particularly adept at virtually extracting white matter connections. Age-related changes were seen in major white matter tracts, deep gray matter, and subcortical white matter, in our large (n=202), age-distributed sample. These diffusion changes followed an exponential pattern of maturation with considerable regional variation. Differences observed in developmental timing suggest a pattern of maturation in which areas with fronto-temporal connections develop more slowly than other regions. These in vivo results expand upon previous postmortem and imaging studies and provide quantitative measures indicative of the progression and magnitude of regional human brain maturation.

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