Child and adolescent brain development are typically accompanied by marked improvements in a wide range of cognitive abilities. However, limited information is available surrounding the role of white matter in shaping cognitive abilities in children. The current study examined associations between white matter microstructure and cognitive performance in a large sample (n = 778) of 6- to 10-year-old children. Results show white matter microstructure is related to non-verbal intelligence and to visuospatial ability, independent of age. Specificity was demonstrated, as white matter associations with visuospatial ability were independent of general intellectual ability. Associations between white matter integrity and cognition were similar in boys and girls. In summary, results demonstrate white matter structure-function associations are present in children, independent of age and broader cognitive abilities. The presence of such associations in the general population is informative for studies examining child psychopathology.

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Generation R Study Group

Muetzel, R., Mous, S., van der Ende, J., Blanken, L., van der Lugt, A., Jaddoe, V., … White, T. (2015). White matter integrity and cognitive performance in school-age children: A population-based neuroimaging study. NeuroImage, 119, 119–128. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.06.014