Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind Lecture Series: Brain chart for the human lifespan


Richard Bethlehem presents: Brain chart for the human lifespan

Registration available here.

Speaker: Richard Bethlehem

Director of Neuroimaging, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Abstract: Over the past few decades, neuroimaging has become a ubiquitous tool in basic research and clinical studies of the human brain. However, no reference standards currently exist to quantify individual differences in neuroimaging metrics over time, in contrast to growth charts for anthropometric traits such as height and weight. Here, we built an interactive resource to benchmark brain morphology, www.brainchart.io, derived from any current or future sample of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. With the goal of basing these reference charts on the largest and most inclusive dataset available, we aggregated 123,984 MRI scans from 101,457 participants aged from 115 days post-conception through 100 postnatal years, across more than 100 primary research studies. Cerebrum tissue volumes and other global or regional MRI metrics were quantified by centile scores, relative to non-linear trajectories of brain structural changes, and rates of change, over the lifespan. Brain charts identified previously unreported neurodevelopmental milestones; showed high stability of individual centile scores over longitudinal assessments; and demonstrated robustness to technical and methodological differences between primary studies. Centile scores showed increased heritability compared to non-centiled MRI phenotypes, and provided a standardised measure of atypical brain structure that revealed patterns of neuroanatomical variation across neurological and psychiatric disorders. In sum, brain charts are an essential first step towards robust quantification of individual deviations from normative trajectories in multiple, commonly-used neuroimaging phenotypes. Our collaborative study proves the principle that brain charts are achievable on a global scale over the entire lifespan, and applicable to analysis of diverse developmental and clinical effects on human brain structure.

Bio: Richard Bethlehem is a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow working on developmental neuroimaging of autism and related conditions. His research focuses on three broad fields:

1. Investigating the trajectories of brain development in typical and atypical neurodevelopment.
2. Integrating multi-modal imaging and genetic information into parsing neurodevelopmental trajectories.
3. Influence of neuromodulatory hormones on brain function in developmental psychopathology

Richard specializes in brain imaging, genomics and computational neuroscience applied to large cohorts of neuroimaging and transcriptomic datasets. Within Cambridge he actively collaborates with the Brain Mapping Unit and outside Cambridge maintains active collaborations with UCLA (Geschwind & Gandal labs), McGill/MNI (MICA-lab led by Dr. Boris Bernhardt) and ICM Paris (Dr. Daniel Margulies).

Key Publications:
– Romero-Garcia, R., Warrier, V., Bullmore, E.T., Baron-Cohen, S. & Bethlehem, R.A.I. (2018). Synaptic and transcriptionally downregulated genes are associated with cortical thickness differences in children with autism. Molecular Psychiatry, link to paper
– Hong, S.J., Vos De Wael, R., Bethlehem, R.A.I., Lariviere, S., Paquola, C., Valk, S.L., Di Martino, A., Milham, M.P., Margulies, D.S., Smallwood, J. & Bernhardt B.C. (2019). Atypical functional connectome hierarchy in autism. Nature Communications 10, Article number: 1022 (Epub ahead of print) link to paper
– Bethlehem, R.A.I., van Honk, J., Auyeung, B. & Baron-Cohen S. (2013). Oxytocin, brain physiology, and functional connectivity: a review of intranasal oxytocin fMRI studies. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38, 7, pp. 962-974

The Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind (VBM) Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.

Contact Information

Sasha Kelly
Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
sasha.kelly [at] mcgill.ca

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution.   We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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