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Imaging Healthy Infant Brain Myelination

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. In follow-on work with John Spencer of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, the two research groups will partner together along with an organization in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India to assess functional brain development over the first two years of age in two local cohorts from different socioeconomic-educational settings starting at six and nine months of age.

More information about Explore New Ways to Measure Fetal and Infant Brain Development (Round 13)

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.