Imaging the developing brain: what have we learned about cognitive development?

Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Mar;9(3):104-10. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.01.011.


The human brain undergoes significant changes in both its structural architecture and functional organization across the life span. Advances in neuroimaging techniques over the past decade have allowed us to track these changes safely in the human in vivo. We review the imaging literature on the neurobiology of cognitive development, focusing specifically on cognitive task-dependent changes observed in brain physiology and anatomy across childhood and adolescence. The findings suggest that cortical function becomes fine-tuned with development. Brain regions associated with more basic functions such as sensory and motor processes mature first, followed by association areas involved in top-down control of behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology