Deep Microstructural Phenotyping of the Developing Brain

Year of award: 2023


  • Dr Rogier Kievit

    Radboud University Medical Centre, Netherlands

  • Prof Marianne van den Bree

    Cardiff University, United Kingdom

  • Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • Prof Derek Jones

    Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Project summary

Overview: We will conduct a novel longitudinal study of the brain?s microstructure, cognitive and social-affective processing, focusing on typical and atypical development (TD and AD) in late childhood and adolescence. This will revolutionise our understanding of the interplay between specific aspects of brain microstructure, cognitive and social-emotional development, and how variation between individuals impacts on individual differences in mental health vulnerability. Knowledge Gaps: While we have a good understanding of brain macrostructural changes during adolescent development, we know almost nothing about the underlying microstructural processes, including how specific microstructural properties drive cognitive and social-affective development and why children with the same genetic deletion (22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS)) exhibit varying cognitive and mental health outcomes. Key Goals: 1. Determine how cell size/cell density/myelination change during a critical period of development in humans. 2. Develop and apply Deep Microstructural Phenotyping (DMPL), using a Connectom scanner and 7T MRI, at three time-points from late childhood to late adolescence. 3. Relate these measurements to cognitive profiles, including executive functions in neutral and social-affective contexts, emotion and reward processing, and social cognition. 4. Contrast 342 typically-developing children/young people with 100 children/young people with 22q11.2DS. 5. Share this globally unique data resource with the community.