Purpose: To evaluate differences in white matter diffusion properties as a function of age in healthy children and adolescents.
Materials and methods: Echo-planar diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed in 33 healthy subjects aged 5-18 years who were recruited from a functional imaging study of normal language development. Results of neurologic, psychologic, and structural MR imaging examinations were within the normal range for all subjects. The trace of the apparent diffusion coefficient and fractional anisotropy in white matter were correlated as a function of age by using Spearman rank correlation.
Results: Statistically significant negative correlation of the trace of the apparent diffusion coefficient with age was found throughout the white matter. Significant positive correlation of fractional anisotropy with age was found in the internal capsule, corticospinal tract, left arcuate fasciculus, and right inferior longitudinal fasciculus.
Conclusion: Diffusion-tensor MR imaging results indicate that white matter maturation assessed at different ages involves increases in both white matter density and organization during childhood and adolescence. The trace of the apparent diffusion coefficient and fractional anisotropy may reflect different physiologic processes in healthy children and adolescents.