Doug Dean, III, PhD – Slide of the Week

Doug Dean, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: Mapping white matter microstructure in the one month human brain

Legend: Infants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 1-month of age and measures of white matter microstructure were calculated using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and a novel diffusion imaging technique termed NODDI (neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging). The image on the left highlights the average white matter microstructure of the 1-month infant brain. The figure on the right demonstrates age related changes of the diffusion imaging measures for different brain regions across the first weeks of life.

Citation: Dean DC 3rd, Planalp EM, Wooten W, Adluru N, Kecskemeti SR, Frye C, Schmidt CK, Schmidt NL, Styner MA, Goldsmith HH, Davidson RJ, Alexander AL. (2017). Mapping White Matter Microstructure in the One Month Human Brain. Science Reports, 29;7(1):9759. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09915-6.

Abstract: White matter microstructure, essential for efficient and coordinated transmission of neural communications, undergoes pronounced development during the first years of life, while deviations to this neurodevelopmental trajectory likely result in alterations of brain connectivity relevant to behavior. Hence, systematic evaluation of white matter microstructure in the normative brain is critical for a neuroscientific approach to both typical and atypical early behavioral development. However, few studies have examined the infant brain in detail, particularly in infants under 3 months of age. Here, we utilize quantitative techniques of diffusion tensor imaging and neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging to investigate neonatal white matter microstructure in 104 infants. An optimized multiple b-value diffusion protocol was developed to allow for successful acquisition during non-sedated sleep. Associations between white matter microstructure measures and gestation corrected age, regional asymmetries, infant sex, as well as newborn growth measures were assessed. Results highlight changes of white matter microstructure during the earliest periods of development and demonstrate differential timing of developing regions and regional asymmetries. Our results contribute to a growing body of research investigating the neurobiological changes associated with neurodevelopment and suggest that characteristics of white matter microstructure are already underway in the weeks immediately following birth.

About the Lab: Doug’s research focuses on the development and application of novel quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to measure and evaluate the brain structure throughout early neurodevelopment and aging. He is particularly experienced in pediatric imaging, scanning more than 800 infants and young children (3 months to 12 years) during his graduate work. His current research is focused on examining how the white matter microstructure of the brain develops across the early development and how these microstructural processes are related to changes in cognition and behavior.

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