Optimising head growth for brain development

Firstly, with Professor Clare Elwell and colleagues from UCL, and Dr Sarah Lloyd Fox from Birkbeck University we have piloted the feasibility of the optical neuroimaging technology, near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), in Gambian infants. NIRS is a relatively new imaging method that takes advantage of the much thinner skull in babies. Because the method is much less sensitive to movement, data can be recorded while young children are awake and actively engaged in a task. Using an NIRS system developed and built specifically for Keneba, initial analysis of pilot data revealed that the infants showed a preferential response to the human (rather than non-human) visual and auditory stimuli, with activation clearly seen in the temporal cortex. This preliminary pilot work was supported by a BMGF Phase I ‘Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE)’ award (‘Explore Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children’).

Read more about the ‘Global fNIRS’s project.

Within this theme of research, and using this technology, our work will: i) define the timing and likely aetiology of growth faltering episodes during fetal life and early childhood; ii) assess the biological consequences of early nutritional insults; and iii) evaluate the effectiveness of nutritional interventions

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