Linear and curvilinear correlations of brain white matter volume, fractional anisotropy, and mean diffusivity with age using voxel-based and region-of-interest analyses in 246 healthy children

Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Aug;34(8):1842-56. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22027. Epub 2012 Mar 22.


In this study, we examined linear and curvilinear correlations of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and white matter volume with age by using brain structural and diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a large number of healthy children and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and region-of-interest (ROI) analyses. We collected data by brain structural MRI in 246 healthy children, aged 5-18 years. FA and MD images were normalized using the normalization parameter of the corresponding structural MRI. Next, we analyzed the correlations between FA and age and between MD and age by estimating linear and logarithmic functions. We also analyzed the correlation between white matter volume and age by linear, quadratic, and cubic functions. Correlations between FA and age and between MD and age showed exponential trajectories in most ROIs in boys and girls, except for several fibers, such as the corpus callosum connecting the bilateral rectal gyri in boys. The correlation between white matter volume and age showed significant positive linear trajectories in most ROIs in boys and girls, except for a few fibers, such as the bilateral uncinate fasciculus. Additionally, maturational rates differed among major fibers, and in girls, the left superior longitudinal fasciculus, which connects the frontal and temporal lobes, showed a slower rate of maturation than other fibers. Our results may help to clarify the mechanisms of normal brain maturation from the viewpoint of brain white matter.

Keywords: cross-sectional study; development; diffusion-tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; magnetic resonance imaging; mean diffusivity; voxel-based analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated