Structural Maturation of Neural Pathways in Children and Adolescents: In Vivo StudyTomáš Paus, Alex Zijdenbos, Keith Worsley, D. Louis Collins, Jonathan Blumenthal, Jay N. Giedd, Judith L. Rapoport, Alan C. Evans
Structural maturation of fiber tracts in the human brain, including an increase in the diameter and myelination of axons, may play a role in cognitive development during childhood and adolescence. A computational analysis of structural magnetic resonance images obtained in 111 children and adolescents revealed age-related increases in white matter density in fiber tracts constituting putative corticospinal and frontotemporal pathways. The maturation of the corticospinal tract was bilateral, whereas that of the frontotemporal pathway was found predominantly in the left (speech-dominant) hemisphere. These findings provide evidence for a gradual maturation, during late childhood and adolescence, of fiber pathways presumably supporting motor and speech functions.