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Developmental Trajectories of Amygdala and Hippocampus from Infancy to Early Adulthood in Healthy Individuals
Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Author: Akiko Uematsu et al.

by Akiko Uematsu, Mie Matsui, Chiaki Tanaka, Tsutomu Takahashi, Kyo Noguchi, Michio Suzuki, Hisao Nishijo

Knowledge of amygdalar and hippocampal development as they pertain to sex differences and laterality would help to understand not only brain development but also the relationship between brain volume and brain functions. However, few studies investigated development of these two regions, especially during infancy. The purpose of this study was to examine typical volumetric trajectories of amygdala and hippocampus from infancy to early adulthood by predicting sexual dimorphism and laterality. We performed a cross-sectional morphometric MRI study of amygdalar and hippocampal growth from 1 month to 25 years old, using 109 healthy individuals. The findings indicated significant non-linear age-related volume changes, especially during the first few years of life, in both the amygdala and hippocampus regardless of sex. The peak ages of amygdalar and hippocampal volumes came at the timing of preadolescence (9–11 years old). The female amygdala reached its peak age about one year and a half earlier than the male amygdala did. In addition, its rate of growth change decreased earlier in the females. Furthermore, both females and males displayed rightward laterality in the hippocampus, but only the males in the amygdala. The robust growth of the amygdala and hippocampus during infancy highlight the importance of this period for neural and functional development. The sex differences and laterality during development of these two regions suggest that sex-related factors such as sex hormones and functional laterality might affect brain development.