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Diffusion MRI (dMRI) holds great promise for illuminating the biological changes that underpin cognitive development. The diffusion of water molecules probes the cellular structure of brain tissue, and biophysical modeling of the diffusion signal can be used to make inferences about specific tissue properties that vary over development or predict cognitive performance. However, applying these models to study development requires that the parameters can be reliably estimated given the constraints of data collection with children. Here we collect repeated scans using a typical multi-shell diffusion MRI protocol in a group of children (ages 7-12) and use two popular modeling techniques to examine individual differences in white matter structure. We first assess scan-rescan reliability of model parameters and show that axon water faction can be reliably estimated from a relatively fast acquisition, without applying spatial smoothing or de-noising. We then investigate developmental changes in the white matter, and individual differences that correlate with reading skill. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that previously reported correlations between reading skill and diffusion anisotropy in the corpus callosum reflect increased axon water fraction in poor readers. Both models support this interpretation, highlighting the utility of these approaches for testing specific hypotheses about cognitive development.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Developmental cognitive neuroscience
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A cylindrical column of tissue that lies within the vertebral canal. It is composed of WHITE MATTER and GRAY MATTER.
Striped gray and white matter consisting of the NEOSTRIATUM and paleostriatum (GLOBUS PALLIDUS). It is located in front of and lateral to the thalamus in each cerebral hemisphere. The gray substance is made up of the CAUDATE NUCLEUS and the lentiform nucleus (the latter consisting of the GLOBUS PALLIDUS and PUTAMEN). The white matter is the internal capsule.
The region of CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM that appears lighter in color than the other type, GRAY MATTER. It mainly consists of MYELINATED NERVE FIBERS and contains few neuronal cell bodies or DENDRITES.
Region of CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM that appears darker in color than the other type, WHITE MATTER. It is composed of neuronal CELL BODIES; NEUROPIL; GLIAL CELLS and CAPILLARIES but few MYELINATED NERVE FIBERS.
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