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> About PFC maturation, Increase in gray matter volume during synaptic pruning
post Jun 09, 2016, 01:02 PM
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Hello everyone!
I'm currently working on the final project of my Psychology's degree, and the topic I've chosen is the relation between the maturation of the PFC and the development of executive functions. As you will see, my work is quite simplistic, as I'm mainly focusing on brain morphology.

Although I'm finding very nice papers to work with, there's something that particularly bothers me about the different methods to measure PFC's maturation.
On the one hand, several studies show that synaptic density peaks at around 4-5 years of age in the PFC.
On the other hand, it's widely known that the volume of gray matter peaks at around 11-12 years of age in the PFC.

So, I know these two measures are compatible. I know that gray matter volume is only partially related to synaptic density. Gogtay et al. (2004) say:
The GM density on MRI is an indirect measure of a complex architecture of glia, vasculature, and neurons with dendritic and synaptic processes.

Selemon (2013) also says:
Synaptic elimination in adolescence is widely thought to account for the decline in gray matter volume detected via longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of human subjects. Although reduction of synaptic connectivity might be accompanied by retraction of glial and neuronal processes, elimination of neuronal cell bodies occurs much earlier in development.

Okay, so it seems like the synaptic pruning in the PFC becomes noticeable at around 4-5 years, and at 11-12 years this process speeds up, so much that it leads to a decrease in gray matter volume.

However, as I said at the beginning of this post, something about this really bothers me. My question is: What's making the gray matter volume of the PFC steadily increase from 5 to 11 years of age, if synaptic density is decreasing during this period? I couldn't find any papers researching this, although it seems intuitive that it's due to the growth of glial cells and other non-neuronal cells. Most papers either focus on gray matter volume, or on synaptic density, and they hardly ever analyze the factors that account for the differences between these two measures. There must be something that I am missing...

Thank you very much!

EDIT: found this very interesting article ( http://www.ncbi.nlm....les/PMC2762785/ ) that answers my question. Seems like indeed scientists may be overestimating the relation between synaptic density and gray matter volume.
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post Jun 11, 2016, 04:25 PM
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Good morning. I'm not a prof., and hope it could be some useful suggestion to your academic research.

1.If the PFC you mentioned here means the prefrontal cortex, the solution for your question that "What's making the gray matter volume of the PFC steadily increase from 5 to 11 years of age, if synaptic density is decreasing during this period?" may be the casue of the protein matter involved, and it's a process of neuro-signal develoment. Anyway, I couldn't agree with the opinion that the span from 5-11years, and it might be a slight different with each individual.

2.A systemic opinion in your post is very valuable, which includes the comparsion and reasonal stimulation.

3.As for the technologies used for the brain researching, I thought
the neuro-signal anlysis tools could be functioned efficiently.
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