Making Connections in the Adolescent Brain

2017-10-09T23:02:50Z (GMT) by Kirstie Whitaker
<p><strong>Talk for 3rd International Conference on Human Brain Development</strong></p><p><strong></strong><a href=""><br></a></p><p><a href=""></a></p><br><p><strong>Abstract</strong>: Adolescence is a period of human brain growth and high incidence of mental health disorders. I will present work by the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network (NSPN; <a href=""></a>) on cortical myelination between the ages of 14 and 24. I will show, consistently in two cohorts, that age-related changes in adolescence are concentrated on the more densely connected hubs of the human structural connectome. These regions tend to be found in association cortex. I will demonstrate the power of integrating open data sets such as the Allen Brain Atlas with non-invasive imaging techniques. We found that the brain regions that change the most at this (late) stage of child brain development are enriched for genes linked to synapses and oligodendrocytes, and for genes associated with a risk of schizophrenia.</p><p><br></p> <p><strong>Bio</strong>: Kirstie Whitaker is a Research Fellow at <a href="">The Alan Turing Institute</a>. She completed her PhD in Neuroscience at UC Berkeley in 2012 and was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge from 2012 to 2017. Dr Whitaker uses MRI to understand changes in the brain's structure and function during adolescence and is passionate about ensuring work is reproducible and can be independently replicated. She is a Fulbright scholarship alumna and 2016/17 <a href="">Mozilla Fellow for Science</a>. Kirstie was named, with her collaborator Petra Vertes, as a <a href="">2016 Global Thinker</a> by Foreign Policy magazine.</p>