New tool tracks brain development in babies

June 27, 2006

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Researchers have used a new technique to monitor brain development in infants and detect disturbances in white matter, according to a study in the July issue of Radiology.

Carola van Pul, Ph.D., and colleagues from Máxima Medical Center in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, studied seven normal infants and 10 infants with perinatal hypoxic ischemia, a type of brain injury caused by a period of oxygen and nutrient deficiency, usually as a result of complications during delivery. Hypoxic ischemic injury can result in severe motor problems.

"The pattern and extent of the brain injury largely determine the neurological and developmental consequences for the newborn," Dr. van Pul said. "The detection of injury at an early stage is essential for the development of strategies to limit permanent brain damage and to improve prognosis."

The researchers used 'diffusion tensor' magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which depicts the diffusion, or displacement, of water molecules through tissue. Ischemia results in tissue changes that are visible with diffusion tensor imaging at least two to three hours before they can be seen on conventional MRI. The team then applied fiber tracking to construct a 3-D visualization of the brain's white matter tracts based on the diffusion tensor images. The procedure was repeated after three months to monitor the development of the injured regions. This is the first time a group of newborns has been evaluated with fiber tracking at birth and at three months.

At birth, fiber tracking showed a different fiber pattern in eight of the 10 neonates with ischemia, compared to the images obtained from the normal infants. The fiber pattern of the brain's white matter was disturbed in several areas of the brain, including the corpus callosum, which allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, and, most significantly, the corona radiata, which is associated with finely coordinated movement. Six of the 10 infants continued to exhibit disturbed fiber patterns at follow-up. All of the infants who had disturbed patterns in the corona radiata at three months had major motor problems.

"Minor white matter abnormalities seen with fiber tracking tended to resolve at three months, while marked changes persisted," Dr. van Pul said. "Further investigation is needed to determine whether the detected fiber abnormalities ultimately correlate with outcomes."

Hypoxic ischemia remains an important cause of infant mortality and morbidity, with an incidence of between one and two per 1,000 live births in the United States.
-end-
Journal attribution required.

Radiology is a monthly scientific journal devoted to clinical radiology and allied sciences. The journal is edited by Anthony V. Proto, M.D., School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. Radiology is owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (RSNA.org/radiologyjnl)

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) is an association of more than 38,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to promoting excellence in radiology through education and by fostering research, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

"Infants with Perinatal Hypoxic Ischemia: Feasibility of Fiber Tracking at Birth and 3 Months." Collaborating with Dr. van Pul on this paper were Jan Buijs, M.D., Anna Vilanova, Ph.D., F. George Roos, M.D., and Pieter F.F. Wijn, Ph.D.

Radiological Society of North America

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.