Profiling intra- and inter-individual differences in brain development across early adolescence

Bottenhorn KL, Cardenas-Iniguez C, Mills KL, Laird AR, Herting MM, Neuroimage 279 :120287 (2023).


As we move toward population-level developmental neuroscience, understanding intra- and inter-individual variability in brain maturation and sources of neurodevelopmental heterogeneity becomes paramount. Large-scale, longitudinal neuroimaging studies have uncovered group-level neurodevelopmental trajectories, and while recent work has begun to untangle intra- and inter-individual differences, they remain largely unclear. Here, we aim to quantify both intra- and inter-individual variability across facets of neurodevelopment across early adolescence (ages 8.92 to 13.83 years) in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study and examine inter-individual variability as a function of age, sex, and puberty. Our results provide novel insight into differences in annualized percent change in macrostructure, microstructure, and functional brain development from ages 9-13 years old. These findings reveal moderate age-related intra-individual change, but age-related differences in inter-individual variability only in a few measures of cortical macro- and microstructure development. Greater inter-individual variability in brain development were seen in mid-pubertal individuals, except for a few aspects of white matter development that were more variable between prepubertal individuals in some tracts. Although both sexes contributed to inter-individual differences in macrostructure and functional development in a few regions of the brain, we found limited support for hypotheses regarding greater male-than-female variability. This work highlights pockets of individual variability across facets of early adolescent brain development, while also highlighting regional differences in heterogeneity to facilitate future investigations in quantifying and probing nuances in normative development, and deviations therefrom.