Research Project 3
Neuroimaging Studies at SickKids and UofT in collaboration with Crescent
Social interactions, planning and remembering are important skills called executive functions. We know that the frontal lobes of the brain are critical in controlling these functions. We also know that the frontal lobes of the brain do not mature until the young adult years, but we know relatively little about the developmental course of the frontal lobes in the childhood and teenage years. Our group at The Hospital for Sick Children studies the development of the frontal lobes and frontal lobe function using brain imaging techniques.
We are studying typically developing children and teenagers (4-18 years of age) as they complete tasks that require frontal lobe functions. While they are working on these tasks, we take pictures of the brain using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and we measure the timing of the brain events using MEG (magnetoencephalography). With the combination of these techniques, we can determine what parts of the brain are involved and most active for the different tasks, the timing of this activity, and how this changes with age.
In our clinical studies, we study children born prematurely and children with autism, as they can have distinct disturbances of these cognitive abilities. Further, the clinical groups allow us to distinguish atypical brain function related to frontal lobe disturbances.
Alternatively, our investigations with typical children allow us to understand the development of important abilities that are crucial to human social interactions.
Crescent students will be able to actively take part in these investigations and further inquiries should be directed to Dr. Michael Leatch.