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Researchers Develop New Tool To Understand Human Infant Brain Development

Update Date: Nov 06, 2014 11:04 AM EST

Researchers have developed a new online tool that will aid studies into postnatal brain growth in human infants based on the similarities seen in the development of the piglet brain, according to a new study.

The technique is a cooperative effort between researchers in animal sciences, bioengineering, and U of I's Beckman Institute. 

Researchers developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based brain atlas for the four-week old piglet that offers a 3D averaged brain and anatomical regions of interest. 

Researches hope that the averaged brain atlas, created from images from multiple piglets could serve as a template for future studies. 

"The piglet brain is similar to the human brain in that it is gyrencephalic and experiences massive growth and development in the late prenatal and early postnatal periods. We are concerned that environmental insults such as infection or poor nutrition during these early periods may alter the trajectory of brain development," said Rod Johnson, a U of I professor of animal sciences, in the press release.

"Pigs provide an excellent translational model for biomedical research. This is a new tool that may be useful to others in the biomedical community," he added.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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