Diffusion tensor imaging for understanding brain development in early life

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101 Scopus citations


The human brain rapidly develops during the final weeks of gestation and in the first two years following birth. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a unique in vivo imaging technique that allows three-dimensional visualization of the white matter anatomy in the brain. It has been considered to be a valuable tool for studying brain development in early life. In this review, we first introduce the DTI technique. We then review DTI findings on white matter development at the fetal stage and in infancy as well as DTI applications for understanding neurocognitive development and brain abnormalities in preterm infants. Finally, we discuss limitations of DTI and potential valuable imaging techniques for studying white matter myelination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-876
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual review of psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Brain development
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Infancy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Myelination
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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