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Brain maturation in adolescence: Concurrent changes in neuroanatomy and neurophysiology

Authors

  • Thomas J. Whitford,

    Corresponding author
    1. Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute and University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
    2. School of Psychology, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Brain Dynamics Centre, Acacia House, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, 2145, Australia
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  • Christopher J. Rennie,

    1. Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute and University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Department of Medical Physics, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Stuart M. Grieve,

    1. Brain Resource International Database, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • C. Richard Clark,

    1. Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory and School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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  • Evian Gordon,

    1. Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute and University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Brain Resource International Database, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    3. Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Leanne M. Williams

    1. Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute and University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Abstract

Adolescence to early adulthood is a period of dramatic transformation in the healthy human brain. However, the relationship between the concurrent structural and functional changes remains unclear. We investigated the impact of age on both neuroanatomy and neurophysiology in the same healthy subjects (n = 138) aged 10 to 30 years using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and resting electroencephalography (EEG) recordings. MRI data were segmented into gray and white matter images and parcellated into large-scale regions of interest. Absolute EEG power was quantified for each lobe for the slow-wave, alpha and beta frequency bands. Gray matter volume was found to decrease across the age bracket in the frontal and parietal cortices, with the greatest change occurring in adolescence. EEG activity, particularly in the slow-wave band, showed a similar curvilinear decline to gray matter volume in corresponding cortical regions. An inverse pattern of curvilinearly increasing white matter volume was observed in the parietal lobe. We suggest that the reduction in gray matter primarily reflects a reduction of neuropil, and that the corresponding elimination of active synapses is responsible for the observed reduction in EEG power. Hum Brain Mapp, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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