The corticospinal tracts and the basal ganglia continue to develop during childhood and adolescence, and indices of their maturation can be obtained using diffusion-weighted imaging. Here we show that a simple measure of visuomotor function is correlated with diffusion parameters in the corticospinal tracts and neostriatum. In a cohort of 75 typically-developing children aged 7 to 13years, mean 5-choice reaction times (RTs) were assessed. We hypothesised that children with faster choice RTs would show lower mean diffusivity (MD) in the corticospinal tracts and neostriatum and higher fractional anisotropy (FA) in the corticospinal tracts, after controlling for age, gender, and handedness. Mean MD and/or FA were extracted from the right and left corticospinal tracts, putamen, and caudate nuclei. As predicted, faster 5-choice RTs were associated with lower MD in the corticospinal tracts, putamen, and caudate. MD effects on RT were bilateral in the corticospinal tracts and putamen, whilst right caudate MD was more strongly related to performance than was left caudate MD. Our results suggest a link between motor performance variability in children and diffusivity in the motor system, which may be related to: individual differences in the phase of fibre tract and neostriatal maturation in children of similar age, individual differences in motor experience during childhood (i.e., use-dependent plasticity), and/or more stable individual differences in the architecture of the motor system.
|Status||Udgivet - okt. 2011|