Adolescent development involves progressive changes in brain structure and cognitive function, but relatively few studies have documented the cognitive correlates of differences in structural brain volumes in this age group. We examined the relations among age, cognitive processing, and mesial temporal lobe volume in 37 children and adolescents. Participants completed a brief cognitive assessment battery and underwent volumetric structural magnetic resonance imaging. For the sample as a whole, amygdala volume correlated positively with age, and larger volumes of both the left and right amygdala were significantly associated with better performance on several cognitive tasks assessing academic skills and acquired knowledge in long-term memory. In contrast, hippocampal volumes did not correlate with adolescents' age and were less frequently correlated with cognitive performance. Amygdala volumes were most predictive of cognitive abilities in boys, whereas for girls, the volume of the hippocampus contributed more frequently to the prediction of cognitive abilities. These data suggest that mensurable differences in mesial temporal volumes during adolescence are reliably associated with long-term cognitive abilities, particularly academic skills and the acquisition of intellectual knowledge, and that these relationships may differ as a function of the sex of the child.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems