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

Karolinska Schizophrenia Project (KaSP)

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54 Citations (SciVal)


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
Pages (from-to)452-469
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H.‐J. G.: Travel grants and speaker honoraria from Fresenius Medical Care, Neuraxpharm, Servier and Janssen Cilag; research funding from Fresenius Medical Care. O. A. A.: Consultant to HealthLytix, speaker honorarium from Lundbeck. A. M. D.: Founder and member of the Scientific Advisory Board CorTechs Labs, Inc where he holds equity; member of the Scientific Advisory of Human Longevity Inc; research grants with General Electric Healthcare.

Funding Information:
National Institute of Mental Health, Grant/Award Numbers: MH104284, MH116147, R01MH113619, R01 MH090553, R01MH117014, R01MH042191; Karolinska Institutet; Stockholm County Council; Southern and Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority; German Centre for Cardiovascular Research; DZHK; Siemens Healthineers; University of Queensland; US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant/Award Number: RO1HD050735; Australian National Health and Medical Research Council; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant/Award Numbers: UL1 TR000153, 1 U24 RR025736‐01, 1 U24 RR021992; Brain Injury Fund Research Grant Program; Indiana State Department of Health Spinal Cord; Parents Against Childhood Epilepsy; Epilepsy Therapy Project, Fight Against Childhood Epilepsy and Seizures; Epilepsy Foundation; American Epilepsy Society; Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation; European Community's Horizon 2020 Programme; Vici Innovation Program; NWO Brain & Cognition Excellence Program; Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; Hersenstichting Nederland; Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development; Geestkracht Programme of the Dutch Health Research Council, Grant/Award Number: 10‐000‐1001; Universiteit Utrecht; FP7 Ideas: European Research Council; Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek; National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; National Institutes of Health; National Center for Research Resources; Consortium grant, Grant/Award Number: U54 EB020403; U.S. National Institutes of Health, Grant/Award Numbers: R01 CA101318, P30 AG10133, R01 AG19771; Medical Research Council, Grant/Award Number: G0500092; Fundación Instituto de Investigación Marqués de Valdecilla, Grant/Award Numbers: API07/011, NCT02534363, NCT0235832; Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Grant/Award Numbers: PI14/00918, PI14/00639, PI060507, PI050427, PI020499; the Research Council, Grant/Award Number: 223273; South Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Grant/Award Numbers: 2017‐112, 2019107; Swedish Research Council; European Community's Seventh Framework Programme, Grant/Award Number: 602450; King's College London; South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; Biomedical Research Centre; National Institute for Health Research Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • brain morphometry
  • longitudinal trajectories
  • multisite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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