The amygdala and the hippocampus--structures in the brain that are involved in emotion, learning, and memory--have been found to play a role in a diverse range of disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
Research investigating the development of these two structures has shown that differences in age, sex, and pubertal status affect the bulk volume of these brain structures. However, researchers have yet to understand the dynamics of volume and shape change that occur between childhood and early adulthood.
Because the amygdala and hippocampus have been so often implicated in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders from childhood through young adulthood, it's especially important to understand how brain development occurs in healthy people, so we have a stronger comparative framework for when the process goes awry in disease."
Ari M. Fish, Co-First Author and Former Postbaccalaureate Research Fellow, Developmental Neurogenomics Unit
Developmental Neurogenomics Unit is part of the NIMH's Intramural Research Program.
To learn more about the growth trajectories of these two structures from childhood through early adulthood, researchers examined 1,529 structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) scans collected from 729 participants between the ages of 5 and 25 in a large longitudinal single-site sMRI study of healthy development.
The researchers were particularly interested in determining whether there were any sex-based differences in the development of these brain structures, as many psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders that emerge during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood do so unequally in males and females.