Sponsored by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center Faculty

The focus of these talks is on advancing the use of brain mapping methods in neuroscience with an emphasis on contemporary issues of neuroplasticity, neurodevelopment, and biomarker development in neuropsychiatric disease.

Hosted By: Shantanu Joshi, PhD, Neurology, UCLA

“Neuroimaging of the very young brain in a high risk context: lessons from a South African birth cohort”

Kirsty Donald, PhD
Professor, University of Cape Town
Head of Division of Developmental Paediatrics
Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Deputy Director, Neuroscience Institute 

Genes and the pre-birth environment together prepare the developing brain for postnatal life. There is robust epidemiological and preclinical evidence for the role of environmental risk factors (e.g. foetal exposure to maternal infection or fever, drugs or toxins) in the causal pathways for poor neurodevelopmental outcomes. This is critically important in low-resource settings, where environmental risks are highly prevalent and frequently overlapping in individual children and risk for poor cognitive and academic outcome is high. However, epidemiology does not tell us about mechanisms and preclinical studies do not fully capture the complex human condition. Therefore, to make a difference where it matters most, we need to directly investigate how the early environment alters the potential of children exposed to adversity. Here I present the brain as an accessible ‘intermediate phenotype’ in the complicated path from multifactorial risks to heterogeneous outcomes in the very young developing human brain in the African context.

June 4, 2020 11:00am - 12:00pm PDT
For more information contact: Mary Susselman (310-206-4291,
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