Médecine thérapeutique / Pédiatrie


New anatomical and functional MRI techniques to investigate brain development : a clinical tool or scientific fantasy ? Volume 16, issue 3, Juillet-Août-Septembre 2013


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UMR663 Inserm-CEA-Paris Descartes, Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, UNIACT, Neurospin, CEA, Bat 145, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France, UMR992, Inserm-CEA-Collège de France, Neurospin, CEA, Bat 145, 91191 Gif sur YvetteFrance

New anatomical and functional MRI techniques have revolutionised our understanding of the development and plasticity of the brain in children which form the basis of learning and memory as well as functional repair following early brain lesions. The use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography has enabled us to investigate the development and progressive maturation of white matter tracts which are true functional biomarkers of cognitive development. Functional MRI offers in vivo mapping of the organisation of brain function during development, but remains essentially a research tool, given the methodological constraints. In practice, the combination of both methods is essential for presurgical mapping of motor, language, and sometimes memory or visual networks. Recent studies on resting-state functional connectivity may provide new insights into all brain diseases at all ages. Multidisciplinary collaboration between clinicians, radiologists, neuropsychologists, neurophysiologists, and experts in imaging processing is the key to future progress, in order to better understand the extraordinary complexity of the human brain, and, in particular, development during childhood.