“What’s going on in the brain of a fetus”
The project will examine mechanisms through which prenatal toxicant exposure alters fetal and child neurodevelopment and how psychosocial stressors might exacerbate these associations.
The funds will also support establishment of a community working group that will bring together community members, policy makers, public health workers, philanthropists, and scientists with a charge to promote community-guided research science.
The objective is to steer science away from “the biggest effect size” toward making discoveries that families can act on with the (potentially limited) resources they have available. The idea being that a smaller effect size, in a place where change is accessible, will have a much larger societal effect. This award builds foundation for ameliorating the negative consequences of toxic metal exposure in early life.
Work from the SCANLab will be featured in this year’s June edition of National Geographic Magazine. The piece includes MRI images of fetuses between 27 and 29 weeks gestation, as well as an overview of the advancements in fetal imaging. In the article Dr. Thomason provides further information about the risk for developmental delays in preterm children and the possible affect of undetected infection during gestation.
The National Geographic website also added a summarized feature, which can be seen by clicking the “Links” tab at the top of this page.
Dr. Thomason was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Mayor’s Task Force Breakfast for the Well-Being of Children and Families. This was the 12th Annual Community Leadership Breakfast and took place on Detroit’s First Annual “Day of the Young Child”.
During the event, Dr. Thomason presented a talk titled “Boosting your child’s brain”. She discussed the significance of engaging children in reading, even prior to birth. She also emphasized the importance of communication with children during childhood in order to support brain stimulation and growth.
The event was put on by Black Family Development, Inc. which continues to support the well-being and development of children.
Recently, SCAN Lab PI Dr. Moriah Thomason attended the Pediatric Academic Society meeting with students Rebecca Craig and Katarina Milosavijevic as they presented posters illustrating some of their work in the lab.
Rebecca’s poster was titled: “Financial Worry During Pregnancy May Change Neural Connections in the Fetus”.
Katarina presented “Maternal prenatal stress and fetal brain programming”.
Congratulations to both Berkeley students!
SCAN Lab is proud to welcome its newest member from the West Coast: Claudia Espinoza-Heredia. Claudia joins us from Berkeley and will be assisting Dr. Thomason in our new San Francisco location.
Claudia is currently working on completing a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science with a neuroscience concentration and education minor. During her time at Berkeley, Claudia has received numerous awards and scholarships, including most recently the Hispanic Scholarship Fund award. She has a dedicated history of volunteer service, and is currently volunteering with the Hispanic Engineers & Scientists organization, as well as the Science in Oakland Elementary Schools group. Claudia is bilingual and speaks English and Spanish fluently. She hopes to further pursue research on early brain and behavioral development.
Welcome Claudia, we are excited to have you join our team!
SCAN Lab is very pleased to announce that Marion van den Heuvel is a recipient of SRCD’s 2017 Early Career Travel Award! She will be presenting her work on neural hubs in the fetal brain at the biennial meeting this year in Austin, Texas. Dr. van den Heuvel’s research illuminates key hubs in the fetal brain, regions that are uniquely, highly connected. This is the first study to show that both primary and association brain regions demonstrate centrality in in utero network organization. These results indicate that the fetal brain network may prepare the brain for the higher order cognitive functioning that develops later in life.
Dr. van den Heuvel will also be chairing a symposium on sleep in low-SES children. This paper symposium will present cutting-edge sleep research focused on at-risk, low-SES toddlers and preschoolers, highlighting issues linked to risk factors, emotional development, and health concerns.
Congratulations Marion, we are so proud!
In their January 2017 issue Scientific Reports, a Nature Publishing Group Journal, featured Dr. Thomason’s work on weakened functional connectivity in the fetal brain prior to preterm birth. This work indicates that even before they are born, premature babies may display altered neural circuitry. These findings suggest that factors contributing to early birth might also impact the brain’s development in the womb, leading to significant neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cerebral palsy. This work is the first of its kind and was conducted in collaboration with researchers at Yale School of Medicine, and colleagues here at Wayne State University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A full PDF of the article is attached below:
Congratulations Saige on helping put together this amazing 3D model of nodes and connections in the fetal brain. This animation is a graphic representation of our fetal ROIs (regions of interest) and their neural networks created using Matlab: