, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 349-361
Date: 11 Nov 2010

Anatomic Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Developing Child and Adolescent Brain and Effects of Genetic Variation

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Magnetic resonance imaging studies have begun to map effects of genetic variation on trajectories of brain development. Longitudinal studies of children and adolescents demonstrate a general pattern of childhood peaks of gray matter followed by adolescent declines, functional and structural increases in connectivity and integrative processing, and a changing balance between limbic/subcortical and frontal lobe functions, which extends well into young adulthood. Twin studies have demonstrated that genetic factors are responsible for a significant amount of variation in pediatric brain morphometry. Longitudinal studies have shown specific genetic polymorphisms affect rates of cortical changes associated with maturation. Although over-interpretation and premature application of neuroimaging findings for diagnostic purposes remains a risk, converging data from multiple imaging modalities is beginning to elucidate the influences of genetic factors on brain development and implications of maturational changes for cognition, emotion, and behavior.