Developmental imaging studies show that cortical grey matter decreases in volume during childhood and adolescence. However, considerably less research has addressed the development of subcortical regions (caudate, putamen, pallidum, accumbens, thalamus, amygdala, hippocampus and the cerebellar cortex), in particular not in longitudinal designs. We used the automatic labeling procedure in FreeSurfer to estimate the developmental trajectories of the volume of these subcortical structures in 147 participants (age 7.0-24.3years old, 94 males; 53 females) of whom 53 participants were scanned twice or more. A total of 223 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (acquired at 1.5-T) were analyzed. Substantial diversity in the developmental trajectories was observed between the different subcortical gray matter structures: the volume of caudate, putamen and nucleus accumbens decreased with age, whereas the volume of hippocampus, amygdala, pallidum and cerebellum showed an inverted U-shaped developmental trajectory. The thalamus showed an initial small increase in volume followed by a slight decrease. All structures had a larger volume in males than females over the whole age range, except for the cerebellum that had a sexually dimorphic developmental trajectory. Thus, subcortical structures appear to not yet be fully developed in childhood, similar to the cerebral cortex, and continue to show maturational changes into adolescence. In addition, there is substantial heterogeneity between the developmental trajectories of these structures.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.