"If independently validated, this could open up the possibility to identify risks for delay in IQ development at 4 years of age or beyond based on an MRI scan right after birth," said Gao, professor of Biomedical Sciences.
The second study, published in Cerebral Cortex, creates a novel way to detect subgroups of infants with diverse brain-behavioral relationships. Investigators stress that different people may use different brain-behavior mechanisms and therefore there is likely heterogeneity in their brain-behavior relationships. The results of this study support this conclusion and reveal two subgroups of infants with contrasting brain-behavior relationships and differential IQ implications.
"This supports the idea that there could be different brain mechanisms for the same behavior among infants, which is important to guide future subgroup-based personalized predictions since this is likely not a 'one-model-fits-all' scenario," Gao said.
Taken together, the studies hold promise for investigators, who hope to better facilitate in-time interventions to allow for the best developmental outcomes in newborns.
"We want to be able to predict future behavioral outcomes or problems based on objective brain biomarkers, imaging-based brain connectivity measures in this case, to facilitate earliest possible intervention," Gao said. "If we wait until behavioral symptoms to emerge, in most cases it’s already too late to reverse the abnormal brain processes that may be ongoing for years before the symptom."
Funding: Research reported in this article was supported by the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01DA042988, R01DA043678, R34DA050255, R01MH064065, R01DA043678 , R01MH064065and R01HD05300; and by the Cedars‐Sinai Precision Health Initiative Awards.