Characterizing brain development is a fundamental task in neuroscience. Yet, most developmental neuroimaging studies to-date have relied on cross-sectional data, which precludes investigation of developmental changes and has hampered progress in understanding the mind-brain relationship during development.
In collaboration with the Danish Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DCMR), the PhD project will close this gap in our understanding of brain development. Leveraging longitudinal modelling techniques and emerging cohorts like HUBU (N = 90, 12-waves, ages 7 -21) and ABCD (N = 11,000, currently 3 waves, ages 9 -14), the PhD student will develop new approaches for capturing longitudinal changes in brain structure and link these to biological (e.g., puberty) and behavioural predictors (e.g., alcohol usage) and lifespan outcomes (e.g., mental health). For example, the PhD student may use nonlinear mixed models to investigate whether alcohol usage in HUBU predicts changes in cortical thickness and whether the age of alcohol exposure moderates these effects, providing insights into sensitive periods.
This PhD is expected to drive theory and methods development in the field and inform prevention and intervention work.
Year 1: Training in statistical modelling (e.g., nonlinear models), coding (e.g., in R), psychometrics and longitudinal design; Systematic literature review; Study design
Years 2/3: DCMR secondment: training in neuroimaging (e.g., DTI and structural MRI acquisition and analysis); Data analysis
Years 3/4: Writing up studies for scientific papers and thesis