Brain scans may someday track child development
In a new study published on September 10th in the journal Science, someday the use of a special type of MRI, called the Resting-state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI), may be used to track a child’s neurological development. The use of this scan on every child is unlikely, but for those that may have autism, schizophrenia, or other disorders, this scan may be able to detect or even diagnose these problems.
It is way too early to get to that point though. There is much research left to do in this area, states senior study author Bradley L. Schlaggar, MD, PhD and pediatric neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. “But is we have enough normative data and enough examples of different types of diagnoses, in principle, when an at-risk child or child with a questionable diagnosis comes along, we could use this kind of approach to make diagnostic classifications to determine whether someone is or is not on appropriate developmental trajectory, and even perhaps use it to make prognostic predictions,” Schlaggar told Medscape.
Connections between neurons are traced
In the bran scans, connection between the neurons are traced, and by the size of these conections, as well as types of conections scientists can tell a lot about the maturity of the child. The authors of the research study scanned more then 12,000 connections in brains of both adults and children, 238 volunteers between the ages of 7 and 30.
The next step is to validate and refine the test. In order to screen for a specific disorder, the test must undergo much more research in order to determine whether the brains of children are developing properly. Monitoring child development on a regular basis such as monitoring height and weight may become quite common, although it is an expensive way to show a child’s development unless there are concerns.