Spatial patterns, longitudinal development, and hemispheric asymmetries of cortical thickness in infants from birth to 2 years of age

Gang Li, Weili Lin, John H. Gilmore, Dinggang Shen

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91 Citations (Scopus)


Cortical thickness (CT) is related to normal development and neurodevelopmental disorders. It remains largely unclear how the characteristic patterns of CT evolve in the first 2 years. In this paper, we systematically characterized for the first time the detailed vertex-wise patterns of spatial distribution, longitudinal development, and hemispheric asymmetries of CT at 0, 1, and 2 years of age, via surfacebased analysis of 219 longitudinal magnetic resonance images from 73 infants. Despite the dynamic increase of CT in the first year and the little change of CT in the second year, we found that the overall spatial distribution of thin and thick cortices was largely present at birth, and evolved only modestly during the first 2 years. Specifically, the precentral gyrus, postcentral gyrus, occipital cortex, and superior parietal region had thin cortices, whereas the prefrontal, lateral temporal, insula, and inferior parietal regions had thick cortices. We revealed that in the first year thin cortices exhibited low growth rates of CT, whereas thick cortices exhibited high growth rates. We also found that gyri were thicker than sulci, and that the anterior bank of the central sulcus was thicker than the posterior bank. Moreover, we showed rightward hemispheric asymmetries of CT in the lateral temporal and posterior insula regions at birth, which shrank gradually in the first 2 years, and also leftward asymmetries in the medial prefrontal, paracentral, and anterior cingulate cortices, which expanded substantially during this period. This study provides the first comprehensive picture of early patterns and evolution of CT during infancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9150-9162
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 17

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 the authors.


  • Cortical thickness
  • Early brain development
  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Infant
  • Spatial distribution
  • Sulci and gyri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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