Effects of age on prefrontal subregions and hippocampal volumes in young and middle-aged healthy humans

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There are limited data available regarding the effects of age and sex on discrete prefrontal gray and white matter volumes or posterior and anterior hippocampal volumes in healthy humans. Volumes of the superior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate gyrus, and orbital frontal lobe were computed manually from contiguous magnetic resonance (MR) images in 83 (39M/44F) healthy humans (age range = 16–40) and segmented into gray and white matter. Volumes of the posterior and anterior hippocampal formation were also computed with reliable separation of the anterior hippocampal formation from the amygdala. There were significant age-by-tissue type interactions for the superior frontal gyrus and orbital frontal lobe such that gray matter within these regions correlated significantly and inversely with age. In contrast, no significant age effects were evident within regional white matter volumes. Analysis of hippocampal volumes indicated that men had larger volumes of the anterior, but not posterior hippocampal formation compared to women even following correction for total brain size. These data highlight age effects within discrete prefrontal cortical gray matter regions in young and middle aged healthy humans and suggest that the white matter comprising these regions may be more resistant to age effects. Furthermore, understanding the potential role of sex and age in mediating prefrontal cortical and hippocampal volumes may have strong relevance for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia that have implicated neurodevelopmental abnormalities within frontotemporal circuits in their pathogenesis. Hum Brain Mapp 34:2129–2140, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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