Background image of Rolex Learning Center @ Alain Herzog / EPFL

Human Brain Development

By Mériam Koob

In my talk, I will review the main steps of fetal brain development. I will show how a doctor reads a fetal brain MRI, the main fetal brain pathologies evaluated on MRI and the implications of fetal brain brain results on clinical decisions. Furthermore I will overview the limitations of actual fetal brain MRI sequences, the MR sequences under development and what we need for more accurate diagnosis in the future.

By Jessica Dubois

Understanding how the human species has developed complex cognitive abilities such as language requires to study how the infants’ brain develops and becomes functional. This is also unavoidable step to explore the complexity of neurodevelopmental disorders. To achieve this, we need non-invasive neuroimaging approaches that can relate the structural and functional development of the brain in vivo. In the recent years, major advances have been made in MRI techniques that can be combined with functional or behavioral approaches to evaluate the children’s acquisitions. Nevertheless, imaging the infants’ brain compared with the adult brain, implies several constraints at the levels of data acquisition and post-processing, because of issues related to motion, brain size and immaturity. In these talks, we will discuss how MRI has allowed us to explore the brain mechanisms taking place during the early development of premature newborns and infants. First, we will consider the development of the cortex in terms of growth, folding and microstructural maturation. Second, we will describe studies on the early architecture and the progressive myelination of white matter bundles. Included in a longitudinal follow-up, such researches could provide important insights on the influence of environmental stimulation and pathological conditions on brain development and plasticity. Selected publications related to the talks: (1) Dubois J, Lefèvre J, Angleys H, Leroy F, Fischer C, Lebenberg J, Lazeyras F, Dehaene-Lambertz G, Hertz-Pannier L, Mangin JF, Hüppi PS, Germanaud D. Mapping the successive waves of cortical folding in the developing brain. Neuroimage 2019; (2) Lebenberg J, Mangin JF, Thirion B, Poupon C, Leroy F, Dehaene-Lambertz G, Dubois J. Mapping the asynchrony of cortical maturation in the infant brain: a MRI multi-parametric clustering approach. Neuroimage 2019; (3) Kulikova S, Hertz-Pannier L, Dehaene-Lambertz G, Buzmakov A, Poupon C, Dubois J. Multi-parametric evaluation of the white matter maturation. Brain Structure & Function 2015; (4) Dubois J, Poupon C, Thirion B, Simonnet H, Kulikova S, Leroy F, Hertz-Pannier L, Dehaene-Lambertz G. Exploring the early organization and maturation of linguistic pathways in the human infant brain. Cerebral Cortex, 2016.

By Georg Langs

In this talk I will describe methods to model structural and functional brain development from in-utero MR imaging data. I will explain methodology, and illustrate methods with results capturing both normal development, and the effects of disease.

By Meritxell Bach Cuadra

Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is central for early diagnosis, planning prenatal interventions, assessing potential long-term outcomes, and improving parental counselling in congenital defects in the developing foetus. However, while foetal MR imaging plays a critical role in all these applications, it is currently not fully exploited but performed mostly using basic 2D MR sequences and analysed qualitatively. Indeed, the acquisition and analysis of foetal MRI is extremely challenging due to uncontrollable motion of the foetus and the mother, as well as the inherent dynamics of the ongoing development. In order to better exploit foetal MR imaging, in the last few years several research groups have developed super-resolution reconstruction (SR) techniques, in which sophisticated image processing methods are used to reconstruct a 3D high-resolution motion-free volume from clinical sequences of ultra-fast low-resolution 2D acquisitions. In this talk I will overview these techniques. Furthermore I will have a brief review of segmentation methods that have been then applied to high-resolution reconstructed foetal brain MRI. Selected publications related to this talk: (1) An efficient total variation algorithm for super-resolution in fetal brain MRI with adaptive regularisation. Tourbier S., Bresson X., Hagmann P., Thiran J.P., Meuli R., Bach Cuadra M., 2015. Neuroimage, 118 pp. 584-597; (2) Automated template-based brain localization and extraction for fetal brain MRI reconstruction. Tourbier S., Velasco-Annis C., Taimouri V., Hagmann P., Meuli R., Warfield S.K., Bach Cuadra M., Gholipour A., 2017/07/15. NeuroImage, 155 pp. 460-472.