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J Child Neurol. 2014 Mar;29(3):318-25. doi: 10.1177/0883073812474098. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Microstructural abnormalities in language and limbic pathways in orphanage-reared children: a diffusion tensor imaging study.

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1Carmen and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI, USA.


This study utilized diffusion tensor imaging fiber tractography to examine the miscrostructural integrity of limbic and paralimbic white matter tracts in 36 children (age M = 124 months) with histories of early deprivation, raised from birth in orphanages and subsequently adopted into the United States, compared to 16 age-matched typically developing children. We found increased mean diffusivity bilaterally in the arcuate fasciculus and increased mean diffusivity and reduced fractional anisotropy bilaterally in the uncinate fasciculus and cingulum in children with early deprivation. Microstructural integrity of the left arcuate fasciculus and right cingulum was related to language and behavioral functioning, respectively. White matter abnormalities were also associated with length of deprivation and time in the adoptive home. Our findings suggest that white matter pathways, connecting limbic and paralimbic brain regions is abnormal in children with histories of early deprivation, with some pathways appearing more susceptible to early deprivation than others.


diffusion tensor imaging; fiber tractography; neuroimaging; orphans; white matter

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