The influence of puberty on subcortical brain development

Neuroimage. 2014 Mar;88:242-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.09.073. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


Puberty is characterized by hormonal, physical and psychological transformation. The human brain undergoes significant changes between childhood and adulthood, but little is known about how puberty influences its structural development. Using a longitudinal sample of 711 magnetic resonance imaging scans from 275 individuals aged 7-20years, we examined how subcortical brain regions change in relation to puberty. Our regions of interest included the amygdala, hippocampus and corpus striatum including the nucleus accumbens (NA), caudate, putamen and globus pallidus (GP). Pubertal development was significantly related to structural volume in all six regions in both sexes. Pubertal development and age had both independent and interactive influences on volume for the amygdala, hippocampus and putamen in both sexes, and the caudate in females. There was an interactive puberty-by-age effect on volume for the NA and GP in both sexes, and the caudate in males. These findings suggest a significant role for puberty in structural brain development.

Keywords: Adolescence; MRI; Puberty; Subcortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Amygdala / growth & development
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Child
  • Corpus Striatum / growth & development
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / growth & development
  • Puberty*