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PSYKISK-Psykisk helse

Mental health and developmental trajectories of the brain - the influence of genetics, early environmental factors and preterm brain injury.

Awarded: NOK 6.0 mill.

This projects aims to create new knowledge about how biological, psychological and social factors may influence mental health and brain development in persons born preterm with very low birth weight (VLBW: birth weight < 1500g) in a life-time perspective. Brain developmental trajectories and preterm brain injury will be related to candidate gene polymorphisms, pre- and perinatal environmental factors and mental health functioning. Advanced cerebral MRI techniques will be used for examinations of several y ear cohorts of VLBW newborns, children, adolescents and adults. Morphometry (cortical thickness, cortical surface area, volumetrics of white and grey matter), structural (diffusion tensor imaging) and functional connectivity will be evaluated, and related to mental health and cognitive development through childhood. Early biological markers that either protect or increase the risk of later mental health problems and psychiatric disease will be explored. Special fields of interest will be to uncover any st ructural-functional relationship between specific brain networks (cortico-thalamic, striato-cortical, limbic, hippocampal) and behavioral, psychiatric and cognitive impairments, and to look at the relationship between mental health and cognitive function and development in VLBW individuals. A multi-center study with participation of research groups from Canada, the US, UK and other European countries will be started, and our group will take the lead in research with focus on mental health and psychiatric disease in adults born with VLBW. Both pooling of existing data and initiation of new, multi-centre follow-up studies will be performed.

Funding scheme:

PSYKISK-Psykisk helse