Computational Morphometry of the Developing Cortex

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Computing

Abstract

Preterm birth is a major cause of neuropsychiatric impairment in childhood and leads to significant long-term clinical, educational and social problems. The incidence of preterm birth and low birth weight has increased over the last decade in industrialised countries, and preterm delivery has a higher prevalence among the unemployed, poorly educated and the politically disenfranchised. The burden of impairment is considerable: half of all surviving infants born at 25 weeks or less show neurodevelopmental impairment at 30 months of age, and these problems persist into later life. Even among less immature infants over one third develop neurocognitive and behavioural deficits, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disability and behavioural disorders which can have devastating consequences for the individuals and their families.The purpose of this project is to develop the computational tools necessary to determine quantitative metrics of cortical development during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the subsequent neonatal period. For this purpose we will develop a spatio-temporal model of the human cerebral cortex during the early phase of brain development up to and including birth. This will enable us to detect differences in cortical development in-utero and ex-utero and to correlate cortical development with neuro-cognitive outcome data. This project is a collaboration between computer scientists, physicists and clinicians, and the research will lead a deeper understanding of the early phase of human brain development. It will also provide metrics and biomarkers for therapeutic interventions in the vulnerable population of infants born prematurely.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Preterm birth is a major cause of neuropsychiatric impairment in childhood and leads to significant long-term clinical, educational and social problems. The incidence of preterm birth and low birth weight has increased over the last decade in industrialised countries, and preterm delivery has a higher prevalence among the unemployed, poorly educated and the politically disenfranchised. The burden of impairment is considerable: half of all surviving infants born at 25 weeks or less show neurodevelopmental impairment at 30 months of age, and these problems persist into later life. Even among less immature infants over one third develop neurocognitive and behavioural deficits, learning disability and behavioural disorders which can have devastating consequences for the individuals and their families.

In this project we have developed computational tools that can determine quantitative metrics of cortical development during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the subsequent neonatal period. We have developed a spatio-temporal model of the human cerebral cortex during the early phase of brain development up to and including birth. This has enabled us to detect differences in cortical development in-utero and ex-utero.
Exploitation Route The developed tools and biomarkers can be used computer-aided diagnosis tools for prematurely born infants. These tools may also be useful for other neurological disorders such as dementia.
Sectors Healthcare

 
Description This project has led to the development of improved atlases of brain development. These atlases are publically available and used by researchers worldwide.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

 
Title Brain-development.org 
Description The database consist of computational atlases of brain development and the corresponding models 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact A large number of research groups worldwide are using the atlases of brain development provided here. This has generated more than 200 citations. 
URL http://www.brain-development.org/