Quantitative MRI provides markers of intra-, inter-regional, and age-related differences in young adult cortical microstructure

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  • Daniel Carey, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA), Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland; Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD), Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Electronic address: careyda@tcd.ie.
  • ,
  • Francesco Caprini, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD), Birkbeck College, University of London, UK.
  • ,
  • Micah Allen
  • Antoine Lutti, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Queen Square, London, UK; Laboratoire de Recherche en Neuroimagerie - LREN, Departement des Neurosciences Cliniques, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • ,
  • Nikolaus Weiskopf, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Queen Square, London, UK; Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
  • ,
  • Geraint Rees, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR London, UK; Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, 12 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR London, UK.
  • ,
  • Martina F Callaghan, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR London, UK; Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, 12 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR London, UK.
  • ,
  • Frederic Dick, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (CBCD), Birkbeck College, University of London, UK; Birkbeck/UCL Centre for Neuroimaging (BUCNI), 26 Bedford Way, London, UK.

Measuring the structural composition of the cortex is critical to understanding typical development, yet few investigations in humans have charted markers in vivo that are sensitive to tissue microstructural attributes. Here, we used a well-validated quantitative MR protocol to measure four parameters (R1, MT, R2*, PD*) that differ in their sensitivity to facets of the tissue microstructural environment (R1, MT: myelin, macromolecular content; R2*: myelin, paramagnetic ions, i.e., iron; PD*: free water content). Mapping these parameters across cortical regions in a young adult cohort (18-39 years, N = 93) revealed expected patterns of increased macromolecular content as well as reduced tissue water content in primary and primary adjacent cortical regions. Mapping across cortical depth within regions showed decreased expression of myelin and related processes - but increased tissue water content - when progressing from the grey/white to the grey/pial boundary, in all regions. Charting developmental change in cortical microstructure cross-sectionally, we found that parameters with sensitivity to tissue myelin (R1 & MT) showed linear increases with age across frontal and parietal cortex (change 0.5-1.0% per year). Overlap of robust age effects for both parameters emerged in left inferior frontal, right parietal and bilateral pre-central regions. Our findings afford an improved understanding of ontogeny in early adulthood and offer normative quantitative MR data for inter- and intra-cortical composition, which may be used as benchmarks in further studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroImage
Volume182
Pages (from-to)429-440
Number of pages12
ISSN1053-8119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Body Water/diagnostic imaging, Cerebral Cortex/anatomy & histology, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods, Male, Myelin Sheath, Neuroimaging/methods, Young Adult

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