Adolescent brain development

A medical imaging team led by TRI CEO and Director of Research Professor Carolyn Mountford and Nathan Tosh are investigating the healthy development of the adolescent brain. 

Some of the biggest changes to the brain occur during adolescence and puberty - and while the brain reaches full size by the age of 12, it still undergoes changes to structure and function during the remaining years of adolescence. 

So far, research on the developing adolescent brain using imaging has focussed on what parts of the brain get used in different tasks or the changes in the different pathways and connections that link the brain together. However, there has been very little research utilising a promising imaging technique called Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). This technique uses a MRI machine to measure the neurochemistry in particular parts of the brain. 

The lack of research done in this area has led Nathan Tosh to investigate what changes can be seen in the healthy developing adolescent brain using MRS as part of his PhD project.

By gaining a better understanding of what healthy neurochemical development looks like, when the pathways are disrupted, clinicians will be able to determine what chemicals in the brain have changed. This may then help clinicians to determine if there are signs of brain abnormalities consistent with certain conditions, potentially flagging these patients for early intervention.

It is hoped that in the future MRS will be able to direct treatment pathways for children who suffer both physical and mental injuries.

Phase one of the project has recently commenced and is in initial stages.

Would you like to participate in this research project? Email [email protected]

Project supervisors: Nathan’s PhD project is supervised by Professor Carolyn Mountford and Professor Graham Galloway at TRI, and Professor Ross Young at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).