Structural MRI of pediatric brain development: what have we learned and where are we going?

Neuron. 2010 Sep 9;67(5):728-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.08.040.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows unprecedented access to the anatomy and physiology of the developing brain without the use of ionizing radiation. Over the past two decades, thousands of brain MRI scans from healthy youth and those with neuropsychiatric illness have been acquired and analyzed with respect to diagnosis, sex, genetics, and/or psychological variables such as IQ. Initial reports comparing size differences of various brain components averaged across large age spans have given rise to longitudinal studies examining trajectories of development over time and evaluations of neural circuitry as opposed to structures in isolation. Although MRI is still not of routine diagnostic utility for evaluation of pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders, patterns of typical versus atypical development have emerged that may elucidate pathologic mechanisms and suggest targets for intervention. In this review we summarize general contributions of structural MRI to our understanding of neurodevelopment in health and illness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Sex Characteristics