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Our Research

Our Research

CAIR Research:

Our research is focused on using neuroimaging techniques to study the brains of children and adolescents. The goals of our research are centered around better understanding how children’s and adolescent’s brains change and develop in the context of both typical development, as well as atypical development in the cases of neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders.

Bray Neuroimaging Lab

Links: brayneuroimaginglab.ca

Principal Investigator: Dr. Signe Bray

The Bray Neuroimaging Lab studies how the brain develops as well as how changes in brain structure and function underlie changes in cognition. This group is also interested in atypical brain development of children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).

Developmental Neuroimaging Lab:

Links: developmentalneuroimaginglab.ca

Principal Investigator: Dr. Catherine Lebel

The Developmental Neuroimaging Lab uses neuroimaging techniques to study maturation of brain structure and function in typically developing children. Changes in brain structure and function of children with developmental disorders such as those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are also of interest in this group. of both typical development, as well as atypical development in the cases of neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders.

MacMaster Lab

Links: RethinkChildMentalHealth

Principal Investigator: Dr. Frank MacMaster

Research in the MacMaster Lab is focused on mental health, specifically depression, in children and adolescents. Techniques looking at brain structure and function as well as brain metabolites are used to better understand mood disorders in children. Another area of interest in this group is the impact of obesity on brain development.

Neuroimaging Techniques:

To address our research questions and learn more about neurodevelopment and disorders affecting the brain, we use a variety of neuroimaging techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging, structural brain imaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Transcranial Magnetic Simulation (TMS):

This technique creates a magnetic field that is used to noninvasively stimulate brain regions. It can be used to increase or decrease the activity of neurons in a specific brain region and provide information about the excitability of tissue.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging:

fMRI is a functional neuroimaging technique that indirectly measures neuronal activity through the examination of changes in blood oxygenation. This technique can be used to study brain regions that are more active during specific tasks or when presented with specific stimuli. It can also be used to examine neural networks, or distant brain regions that are communicating with each other either during a task or while participants are resting.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Example of task-based fMRI results. Brain regions active during a working memory manipulation task. Bray et al. Cereb. Cortex (2013)

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI):

DTI is a structural neuroimaging technique that measures the diffusion of water in brain tissue and allows for the visualization of white matter tracts in the brain that connect various brain regions.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging

Example of white matter tracts measured in a healthy 8 year-old male using DTI. Lebel et al. Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. (2008)

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS):

MRS uses the properties of hydrogen protons (most commonly) to determine the concentrations of metabolites in the brain such as choline, creatine, alanine, and more.

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Example of MRS showing the voxel placement and example spectra from a typical participant and one with depression. MacMaster et al., McGill J. Med. (2006)