Baby brain maps point to origins of neurological disorders

A remarkable brain-scanning project is under way in London. Over the next few years, researchers will generate high-resolution neural images of about 1,000 newborn babies and a further 500 foetuses in the womb.

This trove of 3D information about the wiring of the brain shortly before and after birth will help scientists understand the origins of neurological disorders such as autism and cerebral palsy — and should improve the care of babies who are born prematurely.

In this critical stage of early childhood development, the brain is growing very fast as trillions of connections form between its 80bn neurons. The way the brain develops at this time is influenced strongly by environmental factors, both positively — by intellectual and physical stimulus — and negatively — by disease, neglect or abuse.

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21st January 2018
Financial Times