Quantification of brain maturation and growth patterns in C57BL/6J mice via computational neuroanatomy of diffusion tensor images

Sajjad Baloch, Ragini Verma, Hao Huang, Parmeshwar Khurd, Sarah Clark, Paul Yarowsky, Ted Abel, Susumu Mori, Christos Davatzikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Diffusion Tensor magnetic resonance imaging and computational neuroanatomy are used to quantify postnatal developmental patterns of C57BL/6J mouse brain. Changes in neuronal organization and myelination occurring as the brain matures into adulthood are examined, and a normative baseline is developed, against which transgenic mice may be compared in genotype-phenotype studies. In early postnatal days, gray matter-based cortical and hippocampal structures exhibit high water diffusion anisotropy, presumably reflecting the radial neuronal organization. Anisotropy drops rapidly within a week, indicating that the underlying brain tissue becomes more isotropic in orientation, possibly due to formation of a complex randomly intertwined web of dendrites. Gradual white matter anisotropy increase implies progressively more organized axonal pathways, likely reflecting the myelination of axons forming tightly packed fiber bundles. In contrast to the spatially complex pattern of tissue maturation, volumetric growth is somewhat uniform, with the cortex and the cerebellum exhibiting slightly more pronounced growth. Temporally, structural growth rates demonstrate an initial rapid volumetric increase in most structures, gradually tapering off to a steady state by about 20 days. Fiber maturation reaches steady state in about 10 days for the cortex, to 30-40 days for the corpus callosum, the hippocampus, and the internal and external capsules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-687
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Computational neuroanatomy
  • Development atlas
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fractional anisotropy
  • Mouse brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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