Brain Imaging as a measure of Future Cognitive Function in Children

We are starting an exciting project introducing a neuroimaging toolkit in urban and rural Bangladesh to study brain structure and function in infants and toddlers. Our two-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Virginia, University College London, Birkbeck at the University of London, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).

We will be using fNIRS to study the association between exposure to early adversities (e.g., biological, environmental, psychosocial) and brain development in children of Bangladesh. The combination of fNIRS with other imaging techniques (electroencephalography, magnetic resonance imaging), and other behavioral assessments (Mullen Scales of Early Learning, various cognitive function tests) will provide a much-needed database on early brain and cognitive development in a low resource region of the world. Using fNIRS along with other imaging and behavioral assessments provides us with a robust set of tools that are portable, low-cost methods of assessing cognitive development. These tools can potentially be deployed globally, particularly in low resource settings where adversities are abundant.