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Microstructural development from 9 to 14 years: Evidence from the ABCD Study.

  • Author(s): Palmer, Clare E;
  • Pecheva, Diliana;
  • Iversen, John R;
  • Hagler, Donald J;
  • Sugrue, Leo;
  • Nedelec, Pierre;
  • Fan, Chun Chieh;
  • Thompson, Wesley K;
  • Jernigan, Terry L;
  • Dale, Anders M
  • et al.

During late childhood behavioral changes, such as increased risk-taking and emotional reactivity, have been associated with the maturation of cortico-cortico and cortico-subcortical circuits. Understanding microstructural changes in both white matter and subcortical regions may aid our understanding of how individual differences in these behaviors emerge. Restriction spectrum imaging (RSI) is a framework for modelling diffusion-weighted imaging that decomposes the diffusion signal from a voxel into hindered, restricted, and free compartments. This yields greater specificity than conventional methods of characterizing diffusion. Using RSI, we quantified voxelwise restricted diffusion across the brain and measured age associations in a large sample (n = 8086) from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study aged 9-14 years. Older participants showed a higher restricted signal fraction across the brain, with the largest associations in subcortical regions, particularly the basal ganglia and ventral diencephalon. Importantly, age associations varied with respect to the cytoarchitecture within white matter fiber tracts and subcortical structures, for example age associations differed across thalamic nuclei. This suggests that age-related changes may map onto specific cell populations or circuits and highlights the utility of voxelwise compared to ROI-wise analyses. Future analyses will aim to understand the relevance of this microstructural developmental for behavioral outcomes.

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