Brain Imaging as a Measure of Future Cognitive Outcomes in Children

This is an exciting project introducing a neuroimaging toolkit in urban Bangladesh to study brain structure and function in infants and toddlers. Our Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored project is a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Virginia, University College London, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).

We are using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), electroencephalograms (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),  eye-tracking, and behavioral measures (Mullen Scales of Early Learning and executive functioning tasks) to study the association between exposure to early adversities (e.g., biological, environmental, psychosocial) and cognitive development in children of Bangladesh.

Although previous research in low-income settings have used coarse behavioral measures to gauge development, using imaging and behavioral assessments provides us with a robust set of tools that are portable, low-cost methods of assessing cognitive development and developing a database on early brain development, which can potentially be deployed globally, particularly in low resource settings where adversities are abundant.