Lyall AE, Shi F, Geng X, Woolson S, Li G, Wang L, Hamer RM, Shen D, Gilmore JH
Cereb. Cortex 2015 Aug;25(8):2204-12
Cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) are altered in many neuropsychiatric disorders and are correlated with cognitive functioning. Little is known about how these components of cortical gray matter develop in the first years of life. We studied the longitudinal development of regional CT and SA expansion in healthy infants from birth to 2 years. CT and SA have distinct and heterogeneous patterns of development that are exceptionally dynamic; overall CT increases by an average of 36.1%, while cortical SA increases 114.6%. By age 2, CT is on average 97% of adult values, compared with SA, which is 69%. This suggests that early identification, prevention, and intervention strategies for neuropsychiatric illness need to be targeted to this period of rapid postnatal brain development, and that SA expansion is the principal driving factor in cortical volume after 2 years of age.