Imaging the metabolic basis of atypical brain development

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr Maheen Siddiqui

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

In the mature brain, the metabolic demands of active brain regions are precisely spatially coupled to oxygen delivery through the haemodynamic response. The development of this spatial coupling is unknown, but it is important to investigate because alterations in neurovascular coupling (NVC) have been implicated in neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). My research will focus on mapping the development of typical and atypical NVC and its relation to spatially localised brain function in the early-maturing sensorimotor domain. I hypothesise that early disruption in NVC affects early sensorimotor specialisation and contributes to later cognitive and behavioural difficulties. To test this, I will build on the multimodal neuroimaging approach I have pioneered that measures brain oxygenation and metabolism using a state-of-the-art optical and electrical neuroimaging device optimised for studying the developing brain. I will map typical NVC across sensorimotor domains using novel multimodal analysis pipelines, examine alterations in coupling in infants with risk for atypical neurodevelopment, establish mechanistic utility by metabolic brain imaging of children with known disorders of metabolic function, and diagnosed autism. This work will illuminate the role of energy supply and demand in typical and atypical brain development.