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Keywords:

  • hippocampus;
  • subregions;
  • hippocampal mapping technique;
  • MRI;
  • developmental trajectories

Abstract

The hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory functions and emotional responses, has distinct subregions subserving different functions. Because the volume and shape of the hippocampus are altered in many neuropsychiatric disorders, it is important to understand the trajectory of normal hippocampal development. We present the first dynamic maps to reveal the anatomical sequence of normal human hippocampal development. A novel hippocampal mapping technique was applied to a database of prospectively obtained brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (100 scans in 31 children and adolescents), scanned every 2 yr for 6–10 yr between ages 4 and 25. Our results establish that the structural development of the human hippocampus is remarkably heterogeneous, with significant differences between posterior (increase over time) and anterior (loss over time) subregions. These distinct developmental trajectories of hippocampal subregions may parallel differences in their functional development. Published 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.