Developmental disorders such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder are linked to brain development. Children with these disorders can face lifelong learning, behavioural and mental health challenges. As Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Neuroimaging, Dr. Catherine Lebel is using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better understand typical and atypical brain development.
She and her research team are examining healthy white matter development and its relationship to reading abilities. They are also identifying brain abnormalities in children and adolescents who were exposed to alcohol before birth. Ultimately, their aim is to gain a better understanding of brain structure, function and plasticity (growth and reorganization) with the hope of improving, delivering and monitoring treatment for children with learning and behavioural challenges.