U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Developmental Variation in Amygdala Volumes: Modeling Differences Across Time, Age, and Puberty

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages

The aim of this study was the identification of a normative reference of left and right amygdala development by parceling variance into separate effects of age and longitudinal growth.


There is evidence that the amygdala undergoes extensive development. The exact nature of this change remains less clear, with evidence suggesting linear, curvilinear, and null effects. Data for this study came from the National Institutes of Health MRI Study of Normal Brain Development. Participants in this sample were 54% female and ranged in age from 5 to 18 years (mean = 11.37 years) at study entry. As predicted, the age at initial scan moderated the slope of both left and right amygdala volumes, demonstrating that the nature of longitudinal growth varies across age (i.e., steeper slopes observed among those first scanned at an early age). Follow-up analysis showed that the positive longitudinal growth slope becomes nonsignificant at 13.1 years of age for the left amygdala and at 14.5 years for the right amygdala, suggesting that growth of the left amygdala peaks earlier than growth of the right amygdala. Findings suggest that rapid increases in volumes at early ages decline as youths enter adolescence and may turn to minor declines in volume during late adolescence or early adulthood. (Publisher Abstract Provided)


Date Published: January 1, 2021