The (still) developing adolescent brain

2016-10-27T06:25:36Z (GMT) by Kirstie Whitaker
<b>Abstract</b>: Adolescence is a period of human brain growth and the prolonged changes are in regions of the brain particularly important for complex cognition. I will begin by orienting the audience to some of the common neuroimaging methods used to study the teenage brain, with a focus on what we can - and can not - determine from these techniques. Specifically, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows us to image non-invasively, and at multiple time points from the same participants as they grow up, but the resolution and biological specificity of the images are limited. I will provide an overview of some key developmental studies that elucidate the flexibility of the adolescent brain, and the impact of socioeconomic status on brain structure in adolescence. I will give a more detailed summary of my recent work within the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) on cortical myelination between the ages of 14 and 24. We found, consistently in two cohorts, that age-related changes in adolescence are concentrated on the more densely connected hubs of the human structural connectome. These hubs are located in associate cortex: the part of the brain that integrates information from multiple regions and generates complex action plans. I will conclude with a demonstration of the power of integrating open data sets such as the gene expression data from the Allen Brain Atlas with non-invasive imaging techniques to improve our understanding of the cellular mechanisms driving adolescent brain development.<br><div><br></div><div><b>References</b>: <br><p>Mackey, A. P., Finn, A. S., Leonard, J. A., Jacoby-Senghor, D. S., West, M. R., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2015). Neuroanatomical correlates of the income-achievement gap. <i>Psychological Science</i>, <i>26</i>(6), 925–33. <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Mills, K. L.*, Goddings, A.-L.*, Clasen, L. S., Giedd, J. N., & Blakemore, S.-J. (2014). The developmental mismatch in structural brain maturation during adolescence. <i>Developmental Neuroscience</i>, <i>36</i>(3–4), 147–60. <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Vértes, P. E., & Bullmore, E. T. (2015). Annual Research Review: Growth connectomics - the organization and reorganization of brain networks during normal and abnormal development. <i>Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry</i>, <i>56</i>(3), 299–320. <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Whitaker, K. J.*, Vértes, P. E.*, Romero-Garcia, R., Váša, F., Moutoussis, M., Prabhu, G., … Bullmore, E. T. (2016). Adolescence is associated with genomically patterned consolidation of the hubs of the human brain connectome. <i>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America</i>, <i>113</i>(32), 9105–10. <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><br></div><b>Bio</b>: Dr Kirstie Whitaker is a postdoctoral researcher in the Brain Mapping Unit of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. She is a 2016/17 Mozilla Fellow for Science and a passionate advocate for reproducible neuroimaging research. Dr Whitaker received her PhD in Neuroscience in 2012 from the University of California at Berkeley, funded by a Fulbright scholarship. She is a member of the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network, a Wellcome Trust funded collaboration between the University of Cambridge and University College London. Her work uses graph theory to study structural brain networks and seeks to explain why so many mental health disorders emerge during adolescence. All her analysis code is openly available at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. She is the founder and lead developer of the STEMM Role Models project (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) that seeks to ensure conference organisers are able to invite the most exciting and diverse speakers to their event. Her personal website is <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and she tweets @kirstie_j.<br>