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Preschool Imaging Study
Newsletter March 2016

Thanks to all the families who  volunteer their time, we’ve recruited 127 children! We are following up with successful participants for their second, third, fourth, and fifth visits. To further refine our understanding of children brain's development we are hoping to follow-up with as many successful participants as possible! 
We've expanded our inclusion criteria and are recruiting children with language difficulties. We have recruited 2 subjects so far and aim to recruit 20 more children. We welcome inquiries from families with healthy preschool-age children whether they are part of APrON or not. For more information please visit our website at Preschool Imaging
 

"We are well on our way to fulfilling our larger research objectives"  

  • Characterize the relationship between language abilities and brain structure in early childhood (2-7 years).
  • Examine relationships between trajectories of structural brain development from 2-7 years and reading readiness at age 5-7 years.

We hope that our study will provide a sketch of the early years of normal brain development. This will pave the way for optimizing and delivering interventions for children with language delays or early reading problems.

Recently Published: Pre- and post-partum maternal depressive symptoms are related to children’s brain structure in preschool

Catherine Lebel, Matthew Walton, Nicole Letourneau, Gerald F. Giesbrecht, Bonnie J. Kaplan, Deborah Dewey.
Biological Psychiatry, Available online 15 December 2015, ISSN 0006-3223

Too old too soon? How maternal depression affects children’s brains

Feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and irritability are common among pregnant women, and are often associated with depression. Almost one in five women will experience bouts of depression sometime during their pregnancy or shortly after the birth of their child. Research has shown that children whose mothers experienced depression during or after pregnancy are more likely to develop mental health problems, struggle in school and/or have difficulties relating to others compared to children whose mothers were not depressed. However, it is still unclear how or why a mother’s depression surrounding pregnancy affects her children. The goal of this study was to look at how mother’s depression symptoms during or after pregnancy affected their young child’s brain.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers studied the brains of fifty-two children 2-5 years old. Children’s brain structure was then compared to their mother’s depression symptoms during and shortly after pregnancy.

 

The results of this research study showed that maternal depression symptoms are related to their children’s brain structure in areas that control attention and inhibition. Specifically, higher depression symptoms either in the middle of pregnancy (2nd trimester) or shortly after birth (~3 months postpartum) were related to more mature brain structure in these areas. While brain plasticity is life-long, adaptability is greatest during early childhood. The results of this research may indicate that children whose mothers had more depression symptoms have a shorter window of optimal brain plasticity during which they are most able to learn and adapt to their environment.

Though further investigation is needed, the results from this study uncover links between maternal mental health and children’s brain structure. Clearly, investing in mother’s mental health during and after pregnancy is critical as it may have long-term positive impacts on their children.

The online version of the article can be accessed at DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.12.004

Developmental Neuroimaging Lab

We are committed to making the MRI scanning experience positive for children

Similar to the story, Pluto and the MRI Rocket Ship Adventure, we have installed a facade to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Magnetic Resonance Image scanner (3T MRI).

Other Research Studies in the Developmental Neuroimaging Lab

Brain Development in Childhood and Adolescence

We are examining brain development during childhood and adolescence.

We are currently recruiting healthy children aged 8-13 years, who do not have braces. Participation in this study will require at least one visit to the Alberta Children's Hospital. The visit will involve a cognitive assessment and a non-invasive brain scan using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

For more information please visit our website:  Childhood and Adolescence

Brain Development in Childhood and Adolescence

We are examining brain development during childhood and adolescence.

We are currently recruiting healthy children aged 8-13 years, who do not have braces. Participation in this study will require at least one visit to the Alberta Children's Hospital. The visit will involve a cognitive assessment and a non-invasive brain scan using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

For more information please visit our website:  Childhood and Adolescence

2015 Knowledge Exchange Forum

On October 19th 2015, we hosted a stakeholders consultation on the Brain Basis of Language in Early Childhood.

The event took place at the Alberta Children's Hospital and facilitated communication between policymakers, health practitioners, early childhood educators, community members, parents/caregivers of preschool children, and researchers, as they reflected on how new information on healthy brain development in preschool-age children, specifically as relates to language and early reading skills, can guide medical and educational practices in Canada and address gaps in the existing knowledge. 

For more information please visit our website or email brainmri@ucalgary.ca 

   

Interested in Learning More?

Visit Our Lab Website: Developmental Neuroimaging Lab

Contact Us

Phone: 403-955-5548

Email: brainmri@ucalgary.ca 

Copyright © 2016 Developmental Neuroimaging Lab, All rights reserved.


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