Human brain volume: What's in the genes?

J.S. Peper, M.P. Zwiers, D.I. Boomsma, R.S. Kahn, H.E. Hulshoff Pol

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The human brain continues to grow considerably after birth. Compared to measurements taken at birth (mean, SD was 34.9, 1.1 cm), head circumference was found to increase by more than 30% in the first year (46.6, 1.3 cm); between 1 and 4 years of age it increased by another 9% (50.9, 1.4 cm) and between 4 and 8 years by an additional 4% (53.4, 1.4 cm) in a normal cohort (Gale, O'Callaghan, Bredow, & Martyn, 2006). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research has shown that at 6 years of age total cerebral volume has reached 95% of its adult volume (Giedd et al., 1999). However, the brain continues to show dynamic changes from childhood into adulthood in overall gray and white matter and in subcortical structures. In early adolescence gray matter starts to decrease (Giedd et al., 1999), whereas overall white matter volume still increases (Bartzokis et al., 2001; Giedd et al., 1999; Paus et al., 1999). Also, subcortical structures show developmental changes after childhood. For instance, the thalamus and caudate nucleus decrease with age (Sowell, Trauner, Gamst, & Jernigan, 2002) and the posterior hippocampus increases with age, whereas the anterior hippocampus decreases with age (Gogtay et al., 2006) (for a review on brain maturation, see Toga, Thompson, & Sowell, 2006).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Behavior Genetics
EditorsY.K. Kim
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780387767277
ISBN (Print)9780387767260
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Econometric and Statistical Methods: General
  • Geneeskunde (GENK)
  • Geneeskunde(GENK)
  • Medical sciences
  • Bescherming en bevordering van de menselijke gezondheid


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