About our research group/lab
Pediatric Population Neuroimaging
population neuroimaging lies at the interface between the disciplines of child psychiatry, radiology, pediatrics, and epidemiology. While there are certain challenges in being at the interface of four different disciplines, there are also tremendous opportunities to address specific questions that would otherwise go un-noticed. My group works as a team focusing on the different research domains listed below.
Effects of prenatal and early life exposures on brain development
Prenatal life is a period with the greatest growth and development of the brain. The brain develops from a single cell shortly after conception to a brain that by the time of birth resembles in many respects an adult brain. Thus, it could be easy to imagine that influences during prenatal life could have global effects on brain development. One area of my group is to evaluate the effects of early life exposures on the developing brain.
Psychopathology along a continuum
Psychiatric diagnoses are currently undergoing a paradigm shift to include not only a categorical approach (i.e., diagnosis versus no diagnosis), but also a dimensional approach to psychiatric symptoms (i.e., continuum of symptoms within the population). One of the goals of my group is to determine whether the spectrum of symptoms for specific psychiatric disorders also mesh with the underlying neurobiology of these disorders.
The third goal major area within my group is to evaluate emerging neurobiology associated with severe psychopathology, such as psychotic and mood disorders. There is still an unanswered question as to the premorbid neurodevelopmental trajectories of children who later develop severe psychopathology. Are there changes in the brain that can be seen even before the clinical symptoms present and do these changes become ‘unmasked’ with later neurodevelopment? These questions are addressed in my group. The BRAVE Study evaluates girls and young women early in the course of their development of anorexia nervosa. The goal is not only better understand the underlying neurobiology of this serious disorder, but also to apply precision medicine approaches to better predict outcomes.
The fourth area of activity within my group is to assess the role of genetic variation on neurodevelopment. Brain development is largely driven by genetic factors that begin early in life. Further, most psychiatric disorders are thought not to be a result of one or several specific gene abnormalities, but rather a result of a complex assortment of genes, many which are common in the population. Thus, we apply various techniques to assess the joint risk of multiple genes on emerging psychopathology and subsequent neurodevelopment.
Typical Brain Development / Methodologies
An understanding of deviations in neurodevelopment and neurodevelopmental trajectories associated with psychiatric disorders can only be understood in the context of typical brain development. Thus, within my group we are also evaluating typical structural and functional development of the brain. In addition, to address specific neurodevelopmental questions, we also are developing new tools that allow us to focus on specific questions of brain development.
The development and application of MRI-based neurodevelopmental
growth curves for research and clinical applications.
The neurobiological features of autism spectrum disorder across the
continuum of symptoms in the general pediatric population.
The underlying neurobiology of children at-risk for psychopathology as
adults: The dysregulation disorder phenotype
Methodologies associated with quantifying the quality assessment of
structural, diffusion tensor, and functional MRI images
Jansen PR, Dremmen M, van den Berg A, Dekkers IA, Blanken LME, Muetzel RL, Bolhuis K, Mulder RM, Kocevska D, Jansen TA, de Wit MY, Neuteboom RF, Polderman TJC, Posthuma D, Jaddoe VWV, Verhulst FC, Tiemeier H, van der Lugt A, White T (2017) Incidental findings on brain imaging in the general pediatric population. New England Journal of Medicine 377(16): DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1710724.
Muetzel RL, Blanken LME, Thijssen S, van der Lugt A, Jaddoe VWV, Verhulst FC, Tiemeier H, White T (2016) Resting-state networks in 6-to-10 year old children. Human Brain Mapping 37(12): 4286-4300.
Nichols TE, Das S, Eickhoff SB, Evans AC, Glatard T, Hanke M, Kriegeskorte N, Milham MP, Poldrack RA, Poline JB, Proal E, Thirion B, Van Essen DC, White T, Yeo BT (2017) Best practices in data analysis and sharing in neuroimaging using MRI. Nat Neurosci 20(3): 299-303. doi: 10.1038/nn.4500.
White T (In Press) Brain development and stochastic processes during prenatal and early life: You can’t lose it if you’ve never had it; but it’s better to have it and lose it, than never to have had it at all. J Amer Acad Child Adol Psychiatr (In Press).
Collaboration within Erasmus MC
My group is embedded within three distinct Academic Centers of Excellence within the Erasmus MC, including Quantitative Neuroimaging, Development and Psychopathology, and Population Neuroscience. In addition, with the formation of the Child Brain Center (Kinderhersen Centrum) at the Erasmus MC, we are playing a role in the start up of this very important effort to combine clincial and research for the benefit of those children with abnormalities affecting the brain.
Collaboration outside of Erasmus MC
Vincent Calhoun, Ph.D. – Georgia Technical University, Atlanta, GA
Philip Shaw, M.D., Ph.D., - National Instutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Andrew Michael, Ph.D. – Duke University, Durham, NC
Robert Althoff – University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Stephan Ehrlich – Technical University Dresden, Germany
Randy Gollub – Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Xi-Nian Zou – Chineese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
Anqi Qiu – National University Singapore
Veerle Bergink – Mt. Sinai University, New York, NY
Akhgar Ghabbasian – New York University, New York, NY