Nav: Home

Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development

May 09, 2017

Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.

The images are part of the Developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP), a collaboration between King's College London, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, which will uncover how the brain develops, including the wiring and function of the brain during pregnancy and how this changes after birth. The dHCP researchers are sharing their images and methods online so that other scientists from around the world can use the data in their own research.

Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners at Evelina London Children's Hospital, the team has developed new techniques which enable images of the brains of foetuses and babies to be captured. Researchers have overcome problems caused by babies' movement and small size, as well as the difficulties in keeping vulnerable infants safe in the MRI scanner, so that they can now produce highly detailed and rich information on brain development.

The project will help scientists to understand how conditions such as autism develop, or how problems in pregnancy affect brain growth.

"The Developing Human Connectome Project is a major advance in understanding human brain development - it will provide the first map of how the brain's connections develop, and how this goes wrong in disease," said Lead Principal Investigator, Professor David Edwards from King's College London and Consultant Neonatologist at Evelina London.

The research collaboration is funded by a €15 million Synergy Grant from the European Research Council, and one of the goals of the project is to make sure that the data is shared as widely across the world as possible. The preliminary set being released today will be followed by further data releases. Scientists are able to download the images at https://data.developingconnectome.org.

For this project, Professor Jo Hajnal's team at King's College London developed new MRI technology specifically designed to provide high resolution scans of newborn and fetal brains.

In addition, a group led by Professor Daniel Rueckert at Imperial College London developed new computer programs to analyse the images. "We have been developing novel approaches that help researchers by automatically analysing the rich and comprehensive MR images that are collected as part of dHCP," he explained.

At the University of Oxford, Professor Steve Smith's team has been developing specific techniques to define where the connections are in the developing brain.

As well as studying more babies, the team at Evelina London are now recruiting pregnant mothers for foetal scanning. Meanwhile, the first release of images today will allow scientists to start to explore these powerful images and begin mapping out the complexities of human brain development in a whole new way.

-end-



King's College London

Related Brain Articles:

Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors
Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level.
Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.
New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery
Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues.
Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development
Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.
New test may quickly identify mild traumatic brain injury with underlying brain damage
A new test using peripheral vision reaction time could lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion.
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Brain scientists at TU Dresden examine brain networks during short-term task learning
'Practice makes perfect' is a common saying. We all have experienced that the initially effortful implementation of novel tasks is becoming rapidly easier and more fluent after only a few repetitions.
Balancing time & space in the brain: New model holds promise for predicting brain dynamics
A team of scientists has extended the balanced network model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development
The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behavior problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behavior stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Radiolab Presents: Anna in Somalia
This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation. Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart - when the communist Somali regime perp-walked him out of his own home, and sentenced him to a lifetime of solitary confinement.  With only concrete walls and cockroaches to keep him company, Mohammed felt miserable, alone, despondent.  But then one day, eight months into his sentence, he heard a whisper, a whisper that would open up a portal to - of all places and times - 19th century Russia, and that would teach him how to live and love again. 
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Future Consequences
From data collection to gene editing to AI, what we once considered science fiction is now becoming reality. This hour, TED speakers explore the future consequences of our present actions. Guests include designer Anab Jain, futurist Juan Enriquez, biologist Paul Knoepfler, and neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris.