Age-related volumetric changes of brain gray and white matter in healthy infants and children

Cereb Cortex. 2001 Apr;11(4):335-42. doi: 10.1093/cercor/11.4.335.


To date there is little information about brain development during infancy and childhood, although several quantitative studies have shown volume changes in adult brains. We performed three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (3D-MRI) in 28 healthy children aged 1 month to 10 years. We examined the volumes of whole brain and frontal and temporal lobes with an advanced method for segmenting images into gray matter (GM), white matter (WM) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) compartments. Growth spurts of whole brain and frontal and temporal lobes could be seen during the first 2 years after birth. During this period the frontal lobes grew more rapidly than the temporal lobes, the right--left asymmetry was more noticeable in the temporal lobes than in the frontal lobes and the increase in GM was larger than that in WM in the temporal lobes. Subsequently, WM volume increased at a higher rate than GM volume throughout childhood. Quantitative information on normal brain development may play a pivotal role in clarifying brain neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / growth & development*