Imaging brain development: the adolescent brain

Neuroimage. 2012 Jun;61(2):397-406. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.080. Epub 2011 Dec 8.


The past 15 years have seen a rapid expansion in the number of studies using neuroimaging techniques to investigate maturational changes in the human brain. In this paper, I review MRI studies on structural changes in the developing brain, and fMRI studies on functional changes in the social brain during adolescence. Both MRI and fMRI studies point to adolescence as a period of continued neural development. In the final section, I discuss a number of areas of research that are just beginning and may be the subject of developmental neuroimaging in the next twenty years. Future studies might focus on complex questions including the development of functional connectivity; how gender and puberty influence adolescent brain development; the effects of genes, environment and culture on the adolescent brain; development of the atypical adolescent brain; and implications for policy of the study of the adolescent brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent / physiology*
  • Adolescent Development
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Puberty / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Social Behavior
  • Theory of Mind / physiology