Malformations of the hippocampal formation and amygdala have been implicated in several neurodevelopmental disorders; yet relatively little is known about their normal structural development. The purpose of this study was to characterize the early developmental trajectories of the hippocampus and amygdala in the rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) using noninvasive MRI techniques. T1-weighted structural scans of 22 infant and juvenile monkeys (11 male, 11 female) were obtained between 1 week and approximately 2 yrs of age. Ten animals (five males, five females) were scanned multiple times and 12 monkeys (six males, six females) were scanned once between 1 and 4 weeks of age. Both structures exhibited significant age-related changes throughout the first 2 yrs of life that were not explained by overall brain development. The hippocampal formation increased 117.05% in males and 110.86% in females. No sex differences were evident, but the left hemisphere was significantly larger than the right. The amygdala increased 86.49% in males and 72.94% in females with males exhibiting a larger right than left amygdala. For both structures, the most substantial volumetric increases were seen within the first month, but the hippocampal formation appeared to develop more slowly than the amygdala with the rate of hippocampal maturation stabilizing around 11 months and that of amygdala maturation stabilizing around 8 months. Differences in volumetric developmental trajectories of the hippocampal formation and amygdala largely mirror differences in the timing of the functional development of these structures. The current results emphasize the importance of including early postnatal ages when assessing developmental trajectories of neuroanatomical structures and reinforces the utility of nonhuman primates in the assessment of normal developmental patterns.
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.