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Prog Brain Res. 2011;189:77-92. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53884-0.00019-1.

Postnatal brain development: structural imaging of dynamic neurodevelopmental processes.

Author information

1
Department of Cognitive Science and Center for Human Development, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA. tjernigan@ucsd.edu

Abstract

After birth, there is striking biological and functional development of the brain's fiber tracts as well as remodeling of cortical and subcortical structures. Behavioral development in children involves a complex and dynamic set of genetically guided processes by which neural structures interact constantly with the environment. This is a protracted process, beginning in the third week of gestation and continuing into early adulthood. Reviewed here are studies using structural imaging techniques, with a special focus on diffusion weighted imaging, describing age-related brain maturational changes in children and adolescents, as well as studies that link these changes to behavioral differences. Finally, we discuss evidence for effects on the brain of several factors that may play a role in mediating these brain-behavior associations in children, including genetic variation, behavioral interventions, and hormonal variation associated with puberty. At present longitudinal studies are few, and we do not yet know how variability in individual trajectories of biological development in specific neural systems map onto similar variability in behavioral trajectories.

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