Mapping cerebellar connectivity in neurodevelopmental disorders

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Psychiatry
Location
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au +61417592830 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Stan Skafidas sskaf@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Summary Recent evidence suggests that the cerebellum may be a key site of neuropathology in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This study will examine both the direct effects of cerebellar pathology, and the role of cerebello-cortical circuitry, on the aetiology of ASD symptoms.

Project Details

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by deficits in social skills and communication, stereotyped and repetitive behaviour, and impairments in cognitive functioning. Recent evidence suggests that the cerebellum may be a key site of neuropathology in individuals with ASD, and may therefore play a critical role in the symptoms that characterise these disorders. However, further research is required to better understand both the direct effects of cerebellar pathology, and the role of cerebello-cortical circuitry, on the aetiology of ASD symptoms. In order to facilitate this research in vivo, a high-quality paediatric cerebellar atlas is required. The aims of this project are therefore:

(1) To review and contribute to the literature on identifying cerebellar connectivity based on functional parcellations and methods to examine such connectivity in paediatric populations

(2) To determine whether cerebellar structure and/or function at 6 or 12 months of age can predict ASD symptomatology at 2 years of age

(3) To determine whether abnormalities in cerebellar structure and/or function, or change in these measures over time, drives abnormalities in other key connected regions, such as the thalamus and prefrontal cortex

Data for this study will be derived from the IBIS study, a longitudinal data set comprising over 2,500 baseline and longitudinal scans in over 400 children at high or low genetic risk of ASD (ref), and include both structural and functional MRI scans

The student will have the opportunity to learn advanced brain imaging techniques, and publication of results is expected at the end of the project. The study would be most suitable for a student who is interested in or has a good understanding of neuroscience, biology and medicine as well as some experience in computer.



Faculty Research Themes

Child Health, Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry, Child Health in Medicine



Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Psychiatry

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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