The purpose of the present study was to detail the childhood developmental course of different white matter (WM) characteristics. In a longitudinal diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) study of 159 healthy children between 4 and 11years scanned twice, we used tract-based spatial statistics as well as delineation of 15 major WM tracts to characterize the regional pattern of change in fractional anisotropy (FA), mean (MD), radial (RD) and axial diffusivity (AD). We tested whether there were decelerations of change with increasing age globally and tract-wise, and also illustrated change along medial-to-lateral, posterior-to-anterior and inferior-to-superior gradients. We found a significant linear increase in global FA, and decrease in MD and RD over time. For mean AD, a weak decrease was observed. The developmental changes in specific WM tracts showed regional differences. Eight WM tracts showed non-linear development patterns for one or several DTI metrics, with a deceleration in change with age. Sex did not affect change in any DTI metric. Overall, greater rate of change was found in the left hemisphere. Spatially, there was a posterior-to-anterior gradient of change with greater change in frontal regions for all metrics. The current study provides a comprehensive characterization of the regional patters of change in WM microstructure across pre-adolescence childhood.
Keywords: Children; DTI; Development; Longitudinal; MRI; White matter maturation.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.