Project ID BE-MI2023_10


Co Supervisor 1A School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging SciencesWebsite

Co Supervisor 1B School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging SciencesWebsite

Brain conductivity as a biomarker for atypical neurodevelopment 

Background: The brain is inherently an electrically conductive organ, but standard imaging modalities are not well equipped to measure its electrical properties (EPs). This is particularly relevant for studying neurodevelopment – pre-clinical studies show that control of neuronal polarisation and hence conductivity is a crucial step in the emergence of interconnected circuits across the brain and subsequently networks responsible for cognition and behaviour. We have extracted brain EPs from neonatal MRI (Fig. 1 left) and found that average brain conductivity correlates with age (Fig. 1 middle), prematurity (Fig. 1 right) and social and cognitive outcomes at 18 months.

Aim: To develop novel early biomarkers of atypical brain development by mapping MRI-based electrical properties.

Workplan: We will explore developing brain EPs using the existing dataset of ~1000 fetal and neonatal MRI with genetics and neurodevelopmental outcomes from the Developing Human Connectome Project.

Rotation project: Create a spatio-temporal atlas of the developing brain and obtain average EP maps across neonatal period. Assess changes of EP due to prematurity at a cohort level.

Year 1: Develop a convolutional-neural-network (CNN) based scheme for simultaneous denoising and calculation of high-resolution EP maps for individual babies.

Year 2: Extend methods to fetal data to explore changes in brain EPs over a large sweep of development.

Year 3: Discover links between local EP in the brain and prematurity, outcomes and genetic markers.

Skills: The project requires computational background and provides training in machine learning methods and MRI data acquisition/analysis.

Representative Publications

Malik, S.J., Hand, J.W., Satnarine, R., Price, A.N., and Hajnal, J. V. (2021). Specific absorption rate and temperature in neonate models resulting from exposure to a 7T head coil. Magn. Reson. Med. 86, 1299–1313.

Multi-Channel 4D Parametrized Atlas of Macro- and Microstructural Neonatal Brain Development. Uus A, Grigorescu I, Pietsch M, Batalle D, Christiaens D, Hughes E, Hutter J, Cordero Grande L, Price AN, Tournier JD, Rutherford MA, Counsell SJ, Hajnal JV, Edwards AD, Deprez M. Frontiers in Neuroscience 15, 2021.