Numerous cross-sectional MRI studies have characterized age-related differences in regional brain volumes that differ with structure and tissue type. The extent to which cross-sectional assumptions about change are accurate depictions of actual longitudinal measurement remains controversial. Even longitudinal studies can be limited by the age range of participants, sex distribution of the samples, and scan intervals. To address these issues, we calculated trajectories of regional brain volume changes from T1-weighted (SPGR) MRI data, quantified with our automated, unsupervised SRI24 atlas-based registration and parcellation method. Longitudinal MRIs were acquired at 3T in 17 boys and 12 girls, age 10 to 14 years, and 41 men and 41 women, age 20 to 85 years at first scan. Application of a regression-based correction function permitted merging of data acquired at 3T field strength with data acquired at 1.5T from additional subjects, thereby expanding the sample to a total of 55 men and 67 women, age 20 to 85 years at first scan. Adjustment for individual supratentorial volume removed regional volume differences between men and women due to sex-related differences in head size. Individual trajectories were computed from data collected on 2 to 6 MRIs at a single field strength over a ~1 to 8 year interval. Using linear mixed-effects models, the pattern of trajectories over age indicated: rises in ventricular and Sylvian fissure volumes, with older individuals showing faster increases than younger ones; declines in selective cortical volumes with faster tissue shrinkage in older than younger individuals; little effect of aging on volume of the corpus callosum; more rapid expansion of CSF-filled spaces in men than women after age 60 years; and evidence for continued growth in central white matter through early adulthood with accelerated decline in senescence greater in men than women.
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