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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 1998 Sep;19(8):1501-7.

Differential aging of the human striatum: a prospective MR imaging study.

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Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, TN 38152, USA.



Advancing age is associated with declines in motor function; understanding age-related changes in the basal ganglia, therefore, is imperative for comprehension of such functional changes. The purpose of this study was to examine the age, sex, and hemispheric differences in volume of the caudate nucleus, the putamen, and the globus pallidus.


In a sample of 148 healthy right-handed adults (18-77 years old) with no evidence of age-related motor disorders, we estimated the volume of the head of the caudate nucleus, the putamen, and the globus pallidus from MR images.


The analyses revealed bilateral age-related shrinkage of the head of the caudate nucleus and the putamen in both sexes. In men, the age-related shrinkage of the caudate was stronger on the left, whereas, in women, the opposite trend was evident. In both sexes, age-related shrinkage of the right putamen was greater than of its left counterpart. The mild bilateral age-related shrinkage of the globus pallidus was observed only in men. In both sexes, we observed significant rightward asymmetry in the putamen, significant leftward asymmetry in the caudate, and no asymmetry in the globus pallidus.


Bilateral age-related shrinkage of the neostriatum is found in healthy adults. The shrinkage of the globus pallidus is less pronounced and may be restricted to men only.

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