Structural brain development: A review of methodological approaches and best practices

Continued advances in neuroimaging technologies and statistical modelling capabilities have improved our knowledge of structural brain development in children and adolescents.


While this has provided an increasingly nuanced understanding of brain development, the field is still plagued by inconsistent findings. This review highlights the methodological diversity in existing longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies on structural brain development during childhood and adolescence, and addresses how such variation might contribute to inconsistencies in the literature. We discuss the impact of method choices at multiple decision points across the research process, from study design and sample selection, to image processing and statistical analysis. We also highlight the extent to which different methodological considerations have been empirically examined, drawing attention to specific areas that would benefit from future investigation. Where appropriate, we recommend certain best practices that would be beneficial for the field to adopt, including greater completeness and transparency in reporting methods, in order to ultimately develop an accurate and detailed understanding of normative child and adolescent brain development.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2017, doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2017.11.008

Published May 7, 2018 7:00 AM