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Longitudinal patterns of white matter fibre density and morphology in children is associated with age and pubertal stage

Genc, Sila, Malpas, Charles B., Gulenc, Alisha, Sciberras, Emma, Efron, Daryl, Silk, Timothy J. and Seal, Marc L. 2020. Longitudinal patterns of white matter fibre density and morphology in children is associated with age and pubertal stage. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 45 , 100853. 10.1016/j.dcn.2020.100853

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The pubertal period involves dynamic white matter development. This period also corresponds with rapid gains in higher cognitive functions including attention, as well as increased risk of developing mental health difficulties. This longitudinal study comprised children aged 9–13 years (n = 130). Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) data were acquired (b = 2800s/mm2, 60 directions) at two time-points. We derived measures of fibre density and morphology using the fixel-based analysis framework and performed a tract-based mixed-effects modelling analysis to understand patterns of white matter development with respect to age, sex, pubertal stage, and the change in pubertal stage. We observed significant increases in apparent fibre density across a large number of white matter pathways, including major association and commissural pathways. We observed a linear relationship between pubertal stage and fibre density and morphology in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus, and fibre morphology in the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Finally, we report a significant interaction between the change in pubertal stage and age in the development of fibre density, for left-lateralised association tracts. Overall, white matter development across ages 9–13 years involves the expansion of major white matter fibre pathways, with key association pathways linked with pubertal stage.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1878-9293
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 24 August 2020
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 09:06

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