The BRAINVIEW European Training Network (ETN) aims to establish an inter-disciplinary scientific network devoted to investigating the disruptions of prenatal and postnatal brain development that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders with onset early in life. The network will train Early Stage Researchers (ESR) and produce new knowledge, methods and technology to answer critical issues in our efforts to understand, prevent, diagnose and treat these disorders.
The scientific, educational and public outreach activities of the BRAINVIEW ETN will be accomplished through 6 interrelated Work Packages. WP1-4 provide a coherent set of 15 ESR projects that have strong and multiple cross-links because all ESRs focus on very young children (or even foetuses) that are low risk or high risk for developing ASD and/or ADHD, use similar methodology and designs, and will to a large part analyse data from a shared database that have been /will be collected at multiple collaborating sites. There is strong complementarity in imaging modalities and methodology used and the different domains of development studied. Training of ESRs will be organized and coordinated by WP5, and management, impact, dissemination and outreach will be delivered by WP6.
- Work package 1 Normative knowledge base and twin studies Read more
The overall purpose of WP1 is to increase our understanding of mechanisms behind early individual differences in measures of relevance for ASD and ADHD, employing highly informative designs on infant samples from the general population. ESR1 builds on a large scale prospective already funded study of early brain development within a normative cohort. A large cohort study in infants wil be started that focusses on the development of the brain as an intermediate mechanism between (biological) child factors and environmental factors on the one hand, and behavioral development on the other hand. Key techniques are EEG/ERP and eyetracking. ESR2 and ESR3 use highly informative twin designs to understand individual differences in infancy. Taking advantage of established competence in twin studies at Karolinska Institutet, ESR2 and ESR3 will study the role of genetic and environmental factors in core aspects of information processing in infancy, with a special focus on early measures implicated in ASD and ADHD.
- Work package 2 Pre- and postnatal brain development Read more
WP2 will use NIRS, EEG and MRI within longitudinal studies of infants at high familial risk for developing ASD and/or ADHD. ESRs in WP2 will develop expertise in the application of these techniques to these sensitive pediatric populations. Further, ESRs will develop new tools to address key aspects of brain function in ASD that are presently difficult to characterise in infancy, including neural connectivity (ESR5, ESR6) and inhibition/excitation balance (ESR4, ESR7). Finally, WP2 will provide nuanced examination of social brain development in infants with later ASD (ESR8, ESR9). By working with infants prior to diagnosis, relations between early disruptions to brain function and later behavioural symptoms of ASD and/or ADHD will be identified. To provide a rounded and cutting-edge training environment, WP2 brings together expects in the field of fetal development and imaging, infant neuroimaging, postnatal functional brain development, and ASD and ADHD.
- Work package 3 Postnatal behavioural development Read more
The ESRs in this WP will learn multiple techniques of measurement and analysis relevant to understanding early emerging neurodevelopmental atypicality. Combining measurement of multiple behavioural and cognitive systems that include both social and non-social development in infants and toddlers is necessary to identify the neurodevelopmental underpinnings of disorders such as ASD and ADHD. The ESRs will be embedded within nationally funded familial at-risk cohorts (for ASD KI/Uppsala and Warsaw; for ASD and ADHD at KCL). The techniques include experimental and observational methods (ESR11), motion capture technology (ESR12), and dynamic systems methods of coding parent-child interactions (ESR13). The WP will run two Training Schools (one on diagnostic phenotyping; one on dynamic methods of time series analysis) to ensure that the ESRs have an interdisciplinary training in the multiple methods that are require to capture emergent atypical neurodevelopment.
- Work package 4Tools and applicationsRead more
An analysis model will be validated which can automatically score facial emotional expressions in infants and may be relevant for understanding how emotional processes link with development of social competence, and for early (differential) diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders. Further, the ESRs in this WP will apply techniques, protocols, data and findings of other work packages to develop an algorithm to predict typical and atypical longitudinal trajectories in children at risk for a neurodevelopmental disorder and to evaluate to what extent perturbations to multiple behavioural, cognitive and neural systems as well as their secondary effects (such as atypical parent-child interaction) can be influenced through a comprehensive early intervention. Equally of interest is to investigate whether and how early intervention not only impacts on behavioural and (social-)cognitive development, but also alters the trajectory of brain development as well as parent-child interaction.
- Work package 5TrainingRead more
This WP will provide and coordinate all training components that are essential for the personal development of each ESR. The WP is responsible for the overall coordination of teaching activities. Training events will be offered at different time points throughout the project. These events will take the form of thematic training schools with presentations and seminars from experts from inside and outside the network. Each network site will contribute to the network-wide training events by providing training events reflecting their specialism or scientific expertise
- Work package 6ManagementRead more
The major task of WP6 will be charged with the design, coordination, and implementation of all outreach and dissemination activities. These activities will equip the ESRs to improve public awareness on the importance and societal impact of early onset neurodevelopmental disorders and ensure that collaborative research activities carried out in the context of the ETN will help improve the quality of life of patients with ASD and ADHD through better social acceptance, raise students’ awareness about the needs of translating and communicating scientific achievements to the society, and motivate students to engage in outreach activities. We will build a website and disseminate already in the first months of the project, plan visits of international experts, and end with public symposia in the various countries to reach out to families with ASD subjects and the general public