Diffusion properties of major white matter tracts in young, typically developing children

Ryan T. Johnson, Jason D. Yeatman, Brian A. Wandell, Michael H. Buonocore, David G Amaral, Christine W Nordahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Brain development occurs rapidly during the first few years of life involving region-specific changes in both gray matter and white matter. Due to the inherent difficulties in acquiring magnetic resonance imaging data in young children, little is known about the properties of white matter in typically developing toddlers. In the context of an ongoing study of young children with autism spectrum disorder, we collected diffusion-weighted imaging data during natural nocturnal sleep in a sample of young (mean age = 35. months) typically developing male and female (n = 41 and 25, respectively) children. Axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy were measured at 99 points along the length of 18 major brain tracts. Influences of hemisphere, age, sex, and handedness were examined. We find that diffusion properties vary significantly along the length of the majority of tracks. We also identify hemispheric and sex differences in diffusion properties in several tracts. Finally, we find the relationship between age and diffusion parameters changes along the tract length illustrating variability in age-related white-matter development at the tract level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Children
  • Development
  • Laterality
  • Sex differences
  • Tractography
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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