Spatiotemporal patterns of cortical fiber density in developing infants, and their relationship with cortical thickness

Gang Li, Tianming Liu, Dong Ni, Weili Lin, John H. Gilmore, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The intrinsic relationship between the convoluted cortical folding and the underlying complex whiter matter fiber connections has received increasing attention in current neuroscience studies. Recently, the axonal pushing hypothesis of cortical folding has been proposed to explain the finding that the axonal fibers (derived from diffusion tensor images) connecting to gyri are significantly denser than those connecting to sulci in both adult human and non-human primate brains. However, it is still unclear about the spatiotemporal patterns of the fiber density on the cortical surface of the developing infant brains from birth to 2 years of age, which is the most dynamic phase of postnatal brain development. In this paper, for the first time, we systemically characterized the spatial distributions and longitudinal developmental trajectories of the cortical fiber density in the first 2 postnatal years, via joint analysis of longitudinal structural and diffusion tensor imaging from 33 healthy infants. We found that the cortical fiber density increases dramatically in the first year and then keeps relatively stable in the second year. Moreover, we revealed that the cortical fiber density on gyral regions was significantly higher at 0, 1, and 2 years of age than that on sulcal regions in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Meanwhile, the cortical fiber density was strongly positively correlated with cortical thickness at several three-hinge junction regions of gyri. These results significantly advanced our understanding of the intrinsic relationship between the cortical folding, cortical thickness and axonal wiring during early postnatal stages. Hum Brain Mapp 36:5183-5195, 2015.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5183-5195
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Cortical folding
  • Cortical surface
  • Cortical thickness
  • Fiber density
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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