MRI of the normal brain from early childhood to middle age. II. Age dependence of signal intensity changes on T2-weighted images

Neuroradiology. 1994 Nov;36(8):649-51. doi: 10.1007/BF00600432.


We examined 66 healthy volunteers aged 4 to 50 years by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the signal intensity was measured on T2-weighted images in numerous sites and correlated with age and sex. Using distilled water and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as references on each slice, we calculated the signal intensities of the brain structures. Calculated ratios between structures did not change with age, except for those of the globus pallidus and thalamus, in which the signal intensities decreased more rapidly. The signal intensities of other brain structures changed equally but this could not be discerned visually and quantitative measurements were required. The signal intensities in the white and deep grey matter decreased rapidly in the first decade and then gradually to reach a plateau after the age of 18 years. Maturation of the brain thus seems to continue until near the end of the second decade of life. No sex differences were found. Quantitative analysis requires intensity references. The CSF in the tips of the frontal horns seems to be as reliable as an external fluid reference for intensity, and can be used in routine examinations provided the frontal horns are large enough to avoid partial volume effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Caudate Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Globus Pallidus / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occipital Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Putamen / anatomy & histology
  • Sex Factors
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology