TEBC researchers have published research which combines brain imaging data to describe brain development in early life.
All people are different, and so are our brain. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we can acquire different types of brain images describing several aspects of the new-born brains: from the macroscopic level (e.g., how big a brain is) to the microscopic level (e.g., how water molecules move in brain tissue). Putting together all the information that we acquire from MRI scans, we can obtain a “fingerprint” describing the unique properties of an individual’s brain. To do so, we used a model called Morphometric similarity networks (MSNs), that builds such a fingerprint by measuring how brain characteristics vary across different regions of the brain.
Using data from 105 neonates of the Theirworld Edinburgh Birth Cohort (59 preterm and 46 term), we applied this model to investigate how much of the variability that we observe between subjects can be explained by age differences, and to measure the effect of being born preterm.
What we found was that in the first weeks after birth most changes involved subcortical and fronto-temporal areas of the brain. When we compared preterm and term-born babies, the differences we observed were located mainly in frontal, parietal, temporal and insular regions. We show where these regions are in the figure above. In the future, we plan to link these findings to the behavioural data collected using eye-tracking, to see if the differences that we observe in brain development in early life are related to behavioural differences in childhood.
If you would like more information, you can link to the full paper here.