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Cereb Cortex. 2012 Jan;22(1):1-12. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr018. Epub 2011 May 25.

Total and regional brain volumes in a population-based normative sample from 4 to 18 years: the NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development.


Using a population-based sampling strategy, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development compiled a longitudinal normative reference database of neuroimaging and correlated clinical/behavioral data from a demographically representative sample of healthy children and adolescents aged newborn through early adulthood. The present paper reports brain volume data for 325 children, ages 4.5-18 years, from the first cross-sectional time point. Measures included volumes of whole-brain gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM), left and right lateral ventricles, frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobe GM and WM, subcortical GM (thalamus, caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus), cerebellum, and brainstem. Associations with cross-sectional age, sex, family income, parental education, and body mass index (BMI) were evaluated. Key observations are: 1) age-related decreases in lobar GM most prominent in parietal and occipital cortex; 2) age-related increases in lobar WM, greatest in occipital, followed by the temporal lobe; 3) age-related trajectories predominantly curvilinear in females, but linear in males; and 4) small systematic associations of brain tissue volumes with BMI but not with IQ, family income, or parental education. These findings constitute a normative reference on regional brain volumes in children and adolescents.

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