Structural development of cortical lobes during the first 6 months of life in infant macaques

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2021 Apr;48:100906. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2020.100906. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


This study mapped the developmental trajectories of cortical regions in comparison to overall brain growth in typically developing, socially-housed infant macaques. Volumetric changes of cortical brain regions were examined longitudinally between 2-24 weeks of age (equivalent to the first 2 years in humans) in 21 male rhesus macaques. Growth of the prefrontal, frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal cortices (visual and auditory) was examined using MRI and age-specific infant macaque brain atlases developed by our group. Results indicate that cortical volumetric development follows a cubic growth curve, but maturational timelines and growth rates are region-specific. Total intracranial volume (ICV) increased significantly during the first 5 months of life, leveling off thereafter. Prefrontal and temporal visual cortices showed fast volume increases during the first 16 weeks, followed by a plateau, and significant growth again between 20-24 weeks. Volume of the frontal and temporal auditory cortices increased substantially between 2-24 weeks. The parietal cortex showed a significant volume increase during the first 4 months, whereas the volume of the occipital lobe increased between 2-12 weeks and plateaued thereafter. These developmental trajectories show similarities to cortical growth in human infants, providing foundational information necessary to build nonhuman primate (NHP) models of human neurodevelopmental disorders.

Keywords: Brain developmental patterns; Cortical lobes; Infant brain development; Nonhuman primate model; Rhesus monkey; Structural MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Temporal Lobe