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Splenium Development an Early Spoken Language in Human Infants

The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Publication Date:
Dev Sci
Volume Number:
Issue Number:
Dev Sci. 2017 Mar;20(2).
PubMed ID:
neurodevelopment, splenium, language, infancy, development, MRI
Appears in Collections:
K01 MH101653/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
P01 DA022446/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
P30 HD003110/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
R01 HD055741/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
T32 HD040127/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
U54 EB005149/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
Generated Citation:
Swanson M.R., Wolff J.J., Elison J.T., Gu H., Hazlett H.C., Botteron K., Styner M., Paterson S., Gerig G., Constantino J., Dager S., Estes A., Vachet C., Piven J. Splenium Development an Early Spoken Language in Human Infants. Dev Sci. 2017 Mar;20(2). PMID: 26490257. PMCID: PMC4840090.
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The association between developmental trajectories of language-related white matter fiber pathways from 6 to 24 months of age and individual differences in language production at 24 months of age was investigated. The splenium of the corpus callosum, a fiber pathway projecting through the posterior hub of the default mode network to occipital visual areas, was examined as well as pathways implicated in language function in the mature brain, including the arcuate fasciculi, uncinate fasciculi, and inferior longitudinal fasciculi. The hypothesis that the development of neural circuitry supporting domain-general orienting skills would relate to later language performance was tested in a large sample of typically developing infants. The present study included 77 infants with diffusion weighted MRI scans at 6, 12 and 24 months and language assessment at 24 months. The rate of change in splenium development varied significantly as a function of language production, such that children with greater change in fractional anisotropy (FA) from 6 to 24 months produced more words at 24 months. Contrary to findings from older children and adults, significant associations between language production and FA in the arcuate, uncinate, or left inferior longitudinal fasciculi were not observed. The current study highlights the importance of tracing brain development trajectories from infancy to fully elucidate emerging brain-behavior associations while also emphasizing the role of the splenium as a key node in the structural network that supports the acquisition of spoken language.

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