Neurodevelopmental trajectories of the human cerebral cortex
ABSTRACT Understanding the organization of the cerebral cortex remains a central focus of neuroscience. Cortical maps have relied almost exclusively on the examination of postmortem tissue to construct structural, architectonic maps. These maps have invariably distinguished between areas with fewer discernable layers, which have a less complex overall pattern of lamination and lack an internal granular layer, and those with more complex laminar architecture. The former includes several agranular limbic areas, and the latter includes the homotypical and granular areas of association and sensory cortex. Here, we relate these traditional maps to developmental data from noninvasive neuroimaging. Changes in cortical thickness were determined in vivo from 764 neuroanatomic magnetic resonance images acquired longitudinally from 375 typically developing children and young adults. We find differing levels of complexity of cortical growth across the cerebrum, which align closely with established architectonic maps. Cortical regions with simple laminar architecture, including most limbic areas, predominantly show simpler growth trajectories. These areas have clearly identified homologues in all mammalian brains and thus likely evolved in early mammals. In contrast, polysensory and high-order association areas of cortex, the most complex areas in terms of their laminar architecture, also have the most complex developmental trajectories. Some of these areas are unique to, or dramatically expanded in primates, lending an evolutionary significance to the findings. Furthermore, by mapping a key characteristic of these development trajectories (the age of attaining peak cortical thickness) we document the dynamic, heterochronous maturation of the cerebral cortex through time lapse sequences ("movies").
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ABSTRACT: MRI, enabling in vivo analysis of cortical morphology, offers a powerful tool in the assessment of brain development and pathology. One of the most ubiquitous measures used - the thickness of the cortex - shows abnormalities in a number of diseases and conditions, but the functional and biological correlates of such alterations are unclear. If the functional connotations of structural MRI measures are to be understood, we must strive to clarify the relationship between measures such as cortical thickness and their cytoarchitectural determinants. We therefore sought to determine whether patterns of cortical thickness mirror a key motif of the cortex, specifically its structural hierarchical organization. We delineated three sensory hierarchies (visual, somatosensory, auditory) in two species - macaque and human - and explored whether cortical thickness was correlated with specific cytoarchitectural characteristics. Importantly, we controlled for cortical folding which impacts upon thickness and may obscure regional differences. Our results suggest that an easily measurable macroscopic brain parameter, namely cortical thickness, is systematically related to cytoarchitecture and to the structural hierarchical organization of the cortex. We argue that measurement of cortical thickness gradients may become an important way to develop our understanding of brain structure-function relationships. The identification of alterations in such gradients may complement the observation of regionally localised cortical thickness changes in our understanding of normal development and neuropsychiatric illnesses. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.NeuroImage 02/2015; 37. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.02.036 · 6.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Although many potential neuroplasticity based therapies have been developed in the lab, few have translated into established clinical treatments for human neurologic or neuropsychiatric diseases. Animal models, especially of the visual system, have shaped our understanding of neuroplasticity by characterizing the mechanisms that promote neural changes and defining timing of the sensitive period. The lack of knowledge about development of synaptic plasticity mechanisms in human cortex, and about alignment of synaptic age between animals and humans, has limited translation of neuroplasticity therapies. In this study, we quantified expression of a set of highly conserved pre- and post-synaptic proteins (Synapsin, Synaptophysin, PSD-95, Gephyrin) and found that synaptic development in human primary visual cortex (V1) continues into late childhood. Indeed, this is many years longer than suggested by neuroanatomical studies and points to a prolonged sensitive period for plasticity in human sensory cortex. In addition, during childhood we found waves of inter-individual variability that are different for the four proteins and include a stage during early development (<1 year) when only Gephyrin has high inter-individual variability. We also found that pre- and post-synaptic protein balances develop quickly, suggesting that maturation of certain synaptic functions happens within the 1 year or 2 of life. A multidimensional analysis (principle component analysis) showed that most of the variance was captured by the sum of the four synaptic proteins. We used that sum to compare development of human and rat visual cortex and identified a simple linear equation that provides robust alignment of synaptic age between humans and rats. Alignment of synaptic ages is important for age-appropriate targeting and effective translation of neuroplasticity therapies from the lab to the clinic.Frontiers in Neural Circuits 01/2015; 9:3. DOI:10.3389/fncir.2015.00003 · 2.95 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) predicts executive function (EF), but fundamental aspects of this relation remain unknown: the developmental course of the SES disparity, its continued sensitivity to SES changes during that course, and the features of childhood experience responsible for the SES–EF relation. Regarding course, early disparities would be expected to grow during development if caused by accumulating stressors at a given constant level of SES. Alternatively, they would narrow if schooling partly compensates for the effects of earlier deprivation, allowing lower-SES children to ‘catch up’. The potential for later childhood SES change to affect EF is also unknown. Regarding mediating factors, previous analyses produced mixed answers, possibly due to correlation amongst candidate mediators. We address these issues with measures of SES, working memory and planning, along with multiple candidate mediators, from the NICHD Study of Early Childcare (n = 1009). Early family income-to-needs and maternal education predicted planning by first grade, and income-to-needs predicted working memory performance at 54 months. Effects of early SES remained consistent through middle childhood, indicating that the relation between early indicators of SES and EF emerges in childhood and persists without narrowing or widening across early and middle childhood. Changes in family income-to-needs were associated with significant changes in planning and trend-level changes in working memory. Mediation analyses supported the role of early childhood home characteristics in explaining the association between SES and EF, while early childhood maternal sensitivity was specifically implicated in the association between maternal education and planning. Early emerging and persistent SES-related differences in EF, partially explained by characteristics of the home and family environment, are thus a potential source of socioeconomic disparities in achievement and health across development.Developmental Science 01/2015; DOI:10.1111/desc.12246 · 3.89 Impact Factor