Sean Deoni of Brown University in the U.S. will evaluate whether mapping myelination in the infant brain can predict their subsequent levels of cognitive ability such as language and motor functioning, which emerge later in childhood. Myelin is a lipid that is deposited around neuronal axons during development. Twenty-four infants between four and six months old will be recruited to a controlled pilot study. At six and 12 months the children will be evaluated for brain myelin content, using magnetic resonance imaging and neurocognitive functions, to link specific myelination levels with cognitive ability. In the future, this approach could also be used to measure the impact of the environment, such as diet, on brain development.
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