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Cortical Structure and Cognition in Infants and Toddlers.

Authors
  • Girault, Jessica B1
  • Cornea, Emil2
  • Goldman, Barbara D3
  • Jha, Shaili C4
  • Murphy, Veronica A5
  • Li, Gang6
  • Wang, Li6
  • Shen, Dinggang6
  • Knickmeyer, Rebecca C2, 7
  • Styner, Martin2, 8
  • Gilmore, John H2
  • 1 Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 3 Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 4 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 5 Neuroscience Curriculum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 6 Biomedical Research Imaging Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 7 Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Institute for Quantitative Health Sciences and Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
  • 8 Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Cerebral Cortex
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Mar 21, 2020
Volume
30
Issue
2
Pages
786–800
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhz126
PMID: 31365070
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Cortical structure has been consistently related to cognitive abilities in children and adults, yet we know little about how the cortex develops to support emergent cognition in infancy and toddlerhood when cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) are maturing rapidly. In this report, we assessed how regional and global measures of CT and SA in a sample (N = 487) of healthy neonates, 1-year-olds, and 2-year-olds related to motor, language, visual reception, and general cognitive ability. We report novel findings that thicker cortices at ages 1 and 2 and larger SA at birth, age 1, and age 2 confer a cognitive advantage in infancy and toddlerhood. While several expected brain-cognition relationships were observed, overlapping cortical regions were also implicated across cognitive domains, suggesting that infancy marks a period of plasticity and refinement in cortical structure to support burgeoning motor, language, and cognitive abilities. CT may be a particularly important morphological indicator of ability, but its impact on cognition is relatively weak when compared with gestational age and maternal education. Findings suggest that prenatal and early postnatal cortical developments are important for cognition in infants and toddlers but should be considered in relation to other child and demographic factors. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]

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