Changes of cortical gray matter volume during development: a Human Connectome Project study

We assessed changes in gray matter volume of 35 cerebrocortical regions in a large sample of participants in the Human Connectome Project-Development (n = 649, 6-21 yr old, 299 males and 350 females). The same protocol for MRI data acquisition and processing was used for all brains. Volumes of individual areas were adjusted for estimated total intracranial volume and linearly regressed against age. We found changes of volume with age that were distinct among areas and consistent between sexes, as follows: 1) the overall cortical volume decreased significantly with age; 2) the volumes of 30/35 areas also decreased significantly with age; 3) the volumes of the hippocampal cortex (hippocampus, parahippocampal, and entorhinal) and that of pericalcarine cortex did not show significant age-related changes; and 4) the volume of the temporal pole increased significantly with age. The rates of volume reduction with age did not differ significantly between the two sexes, except for areas of the parietal lobe where males showed statistically significantly higher volume reduction with age than females. These results, obtained from a large sample of male and female participants, and acquired and processed in the same way, confirm previous findings, offer new insights into region-specific age-related changes in cortical brain volume, and are discussed in the context of the hypothesis that reduction in cortical volume may be partly due to a background, low-grade chronic neuroinflammation inflicted by common viruses residing latently in the brain, notably viruses of the human herpes family.