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Individual Differences in Nerve Fiber Myelination. A Methodological Study.

Student: Irina Matiulko

Supervisor: Marie Arsalidou

Faculty: Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience

Educational Programme: Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: From Neuron to Cognition (Master)

Final Grade: 10

Year of Graduation: 2020

White matter makes up about 50% of the human brain. White matter refers to areas in the brain that are formed by myelinated axons, also called fiber tracts. Maturation of white matter fiber tracts undergo the most dramatic changes during childhood and adolescence. The spatial and temporal patterns of myelination, as well as the degree to which the microstructural characteristics of the white matter can vary in a healthy brain as a function of age, gender, and hemisphere are poorly understood. The present study examined the developmental profile of the corpus callosum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and inferior longitudinal fasciculus in children, adolescents, and adults using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fast macromolecular proton fraction mapping (MPF). The observed changes in microstructural metrics indicated increasing axonal myelination and fiber density as a function of age in all fiber tracts. The most pronounced age-related increase in myelination was found in the corpus callosum, whereas findings on the inferior longitudinal fasciculus demonstrated early maturation and lack of hemispheric asymmetry. Bilateral fiber tracts did not show anatomical lateralization, but exhibited a pronounced hemispheric asymmetry in their maturation profile. Results of the application of the MPF demonstrated the importance of using advanced methods of spacial alignment and provided normative values for adult participants. This is the first study which reports normative DTI values for school-age children in Russia. Findings are discussed in terms of biological changes and cognitive development.

Full text (added May 20, 2020)

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