Longitudinal stability of the folding pattern of the anterior cingulate cortex during development

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2016 Jun:19:122-7. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Prenatal processes are likely critical for the differences in cognitive ability and disease risk that unfold in postnatal life. Prenatally established cortical folding patterns are increasingly studied as an adult proxy for earlier development events - under the as yet untested assumption that an individual's folding pattern is developmentally fixed. Here, we provide the first empirical test of this stability assumption using 263 longitudinally-acquired structural MRI brain scans from 75 typically developing individuals spanning ages 7 to 32 years. We focus on the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) - an intensely studied cortical region that presents two qualitatively distinct and reliably classifiable sulcal patterns with links to postnatal behavior. We show - without exception-that individual ACC sulcal patterns are fixed from childhood to adulthood, at the same time that quantitative anatomical ACC metrics are undergoing profound developmental change. Our findings buttress use of folding typology as a postnatally-stable marker for linking variations in early brain development to later neurocognitive outcomes in ex utero life.

Keywords: ACC; Executive control; Fetal life; MRI; Neurodevelopment; Sulcal pattern.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gyrus Cinguli / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / growth & development*
  • Young Adult