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All authors are affiliated with the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center,

By Carissa J. Cascio, Ph. D, Guido Gerig, Ph. D, Joseph Piven, Carolina The, Sylvain Gouttard and Steven R. Green


Objective: To provide an overview of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and its application to the study of white matter in the developing brain, in both healthy and clinical samples. Method: The development of DTI and its application to brain imaging of white matter tracts is discussed. 48 studies using DTI to examine diffusion properties of the developing brain are reviewed in the context of the structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) literature. Reports of how brain diffusion properties are affected in pediatric clinical samples and how they relate to cognitive and behavioral phenotypes are reviewed. Results: DTI has been successfully used to describe white matter development in pediatric samples. Changes in white matter diffusion properties are consistent across studies, with anisotropy increasing and overall diffusion decreasing with age. Diffusion measures in relevant white matter regions correlate with behavioral measures in healthy children and in clinical pediatric samples. Conclusions: DTI is an important tool for providing a more detailed picture of developing white matter than can be obtained with conventional MRI alone. Keywords: brain, development, white matter, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance imaging.

Year: 2009
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