1 Neurologisk Afdeling N BFH, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark2 University of Copenhagen3 unknown
While brain gray matter is primarily associated with sensorimotor processing and cognition, white matter modulates the distribution of action potentials, coordinates communication between different brain regions, and acts as a relay for input/output signals. Previous studies have described morphological changes in gray and white matter during childhood and adolescence, which are consistent with cellular genesis and maturation, but corresponding events in infants are poorly documented. In the present study, we estimated the total number of cells (neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and microglia) in the cerebral white matter of 9 infants aged 0-33 months, using design-based stereological methods to obtain quantitative data about brain development. There were linear increases with age in the numbers of oligodendrocytes (7-28 billion) and astrocytes (1.5-6.7 billion) during the first 3 years of life, thus attaining two-thirds of the corresponding numbers in adults. The numbers of neurons (0.7 billion) and microglia (0.2 billion) in the white matter did not increase during the first 3 years of life, but showed large biological variation.