Development of the human corpus callosum during childhood and adolescence: a longitudinal MRI study

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1999 May;23(4):571-88. doi: 10.1016/s0278-5846(99)00017-2.


1. Interest in the morphologic development of the corpus callosum (CC) during childhood and adolescence stems from adolescent changes in cognitive functions subserved by the CC, reports of CC anomalies for a wide variety of childhood neuropsychiatric illnesses, and controversy regarding sexual dimorphism. 2. Characterization of the normal developmental pattern of the CC is hindered by enormous variability of its size. This is especially problematic for cross-sectional studies seeking to assess possible non-linear developmental curves. 3. To more accurately characterize developmental changes, a longitudinal brain magnetic resonance imaging study with subjects rescanned at approximately 2 year intervals was conducted resulting in 251 scans from 139 healthy children and adolescents. 4. Midsagittal area of the CC, especially the posterior regions, increased robustly from ages 5 to 18 years. 5. Although the genu of the CC was significantly larger in males there were no sex differences in mean area after adjustment for total cerebral volume and the growth patterns did not differ between sexes. 6. Analysis revealed a non-linear increase in the splenium, the most posterior region, with increases greatest in the younger years. 7. The results of this longitudinal study, in addition to confirming and extending previous cross-sectional reports, provide an increasingly accurate yardstick from which to assess pathological development.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Callosum / growth & development
  • Corpus Callosum / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Physical Examination
  • Sex Characteristics