Subcortical volumes across the lifespan: Data from 18,605 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years

Karolinska Schizophrenia Project K, Danai Dima, Amirhossein Modabbernia, Efstathios Papachristou, Gaelle E. Doucet, Ingrid Agartz, Moji Aghajani, Theophilus N. Akudjedu, Anton Albajes-Eizagirre, Dag Alnaes, Kathryn Alpert, Micael Andersson, Nancy C. Andreasen, Ole A. Andreassen, Philip Asherson, Tobias Banaschewski, Nuria Bargallo, Sarah Baumeister, Ramona Baur-Streubel, Alessandro BertolinoAurora Bonvino, Dorret Boomsma, Stefan Borgwardt, Josiane Bourque, Daniel Brandeis, Alan Breier, Henry Brodaty, Rachel M. Brouwer, Jan K. Buitelaar, Geraldo F. Busatto, Randy L. Buckner, Vincent Calhoun, Erick J. Canales-Rodriguez, Dara M. Cannon, Xavier Caseras, Francisco X. Castellanos, Simon Cervenka, Tiffany M. Chaim-Avancini, Christopher R. K. Ching, Victoria Chubar, Vincent P. Clark, Patricia Conrod, Annette Conzelmann, Benedicto Crespo-Facorro, Fabrice Crivello, Nynke A. Groenewold, Pieter J. Hoekstra, Sanne Koops, Lianne Schmaal, Iris Sommer, Lei Wang

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Age has a major effect on brain volume. However, the normative studies available are constrained by small sample sizes, restricted age coverage and significant methodological variability. These limitations introduce inconsistencies and may obscure or distort the lifespan trajectories of brain morphometry. In response, we capitalized on the resources of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to examine age-related trajectories inferred from cross-sectional measures of the ventricles, the basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens), the thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala using magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 18,605 individuals aged 3-90 years. All subcortical structure volumes were at their maximum value early in life. The volume of the basal ganglia showed a monotonic negative association with age thereafter; there was no significant association between age and the volumes of the thalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus (with some degree of decline in thalamus) until the sixth decade of life after which they also showed a steep negative association with age. The lateral ventricles showed continuous enlargement throughout the lifespan. Age was positively associated with inter-individual variability in the hippocampus and amygdala and the lateral ventricles. These results were robust to potential confounders and could be used to examine the functional significance of deviations from typical age-related morphometric patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalHuman brain mapping
Early online date11-Feb-2021
Publication statusPublished - 11-Feb-2021


  • brain morphometry
  • longitudinal trajectories
  • multisite

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