Pubertal stage and brain anatomy in girls

R. E. Blanton, R. E. Cooney, J. Joormann, F. Eugène, G. H. Glover, I. H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Studies of puberty have focused primarily on changes in hormones and on observable physical bodily characteristics. Little is known, however, about the nature of the relation between pubertal status and brain physiology. This is particularly important given findings that have linked the onset of puberty with both changes in cognitive functioning and increases in the incidence of depression and anxiety. The present study examined relations between pubertal stage, as assessed by Tanner staging, and brain anatomy in a sample of 54 girls aged 9-15. years. Brain morphometric analysis was conducted using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The hippocampus and amygdala were manually traced on MRI scans in all participants. Stepwise regression analyses were conducted with total intracranial volume (ICV), age, and pubertal status as the predictor variables and hippocampus and amygdala volumes as outcome variables. Pubertal status was significantly associated with left amygdala volume, after controlling for both age and ICV. In addition, puberty was related to right hippocampus and amygdala volumes, after controlling for ICV. In contrast, no significant associations were found between age and hippocampal and amygdala volumes after controlling for pubertal status and ICV. These findings highlight the importance of the relation between pubertal status and morphometry of the hippocampus and amygdala, and of limbic and subcortical structures that have been implicated in emotional and social behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Aug 16 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain development
  • Girls
  • Puberty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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