Mechanical properties of the in vivo adolescent human brain

Grace McIlvain, Hillary Schwarb, Neal J. Cohen, Eva Telzer, Curtis L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Viscoelastic mechanical properties of the in vivo human brain, measured noninvasively with magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), have recently been shown to be affected by aging and neurological disease, as well as relate to performance on cognitive tasks in adults. The demonstrated sensitivity of brain mechanical properties to neural tissue integrity make them an attractive target for examining the developing brain; however, to date, MRE studies on children are lacking. In this work, we characterized global and regional brain stiffness and damping ratio in a sample of 40 adolescents aged 12–14 years, including the lobes of the cerebrum and subcortical gray matter structures. We also compared the properties of the adolescent brain to the healthy adult brain. Temporal and parietal cerebral lobes were softer in adolescents compared to adults. We found that of subcortical gray matter structures, the caudate and the putamen were significantly stiffer in adolescents, and that the hippocampus and amygdala were significantly less stiff than all other subcortical structures. This study provides the first detailed characterization of adolescent brain viscoelasticity and provides baseline data to be used in studying development and pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Brain
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Pediatric
  • Stiffness
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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