Longitudinal development of cortical and subcortical gray matter from birth to 2 years

John H. Gilmore, Feng Shi, Sandra L. Woolson, Rebecca C. Knickmeyer, Sarah J. Short, Weili Lin, Hongtu Zhu, Robert M. Hamer, Martin Styner, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Citations (Scopus)


Very little is known about cortical development in the first years of life, a time of rapid cognitive development and risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. We studied regional cortical and subcortical gray matter volume growth in a group of 72 children who underwent magnetic resonance scanning after birth and at ages 1 and 2 years using a novel longitudinal registration/ parcellation approach. Overall, cortical gray matter volumes increased substantially (106%) in the first year of life and less so in the second year (18%). We found marked regional differences in developmental rates, with primary motor and sensory cortices growing slower in the first year of life with association cortices growing more rapidly. In the second year of life, primary sensory regions continued to grow more slowly, while frontal and parietal regions developed relatively more quickly. The hippocampus grew less than other subcortical structures such as the amygdala and thalamus in the first year of life. It is likely that these patterns of regional gray matter growth reflect maturation and development of underlying function, as they are consistent with cognitive and functional development in the first years of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2478-2485
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • amygdala
  • cerebral cortex
  • hippocampus
  • lateral ventricle
  • magnetic resonace imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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