The Queen's researchers are continuing to develop novel approaches for using eye movements to assess brain function. In collaboration with Doug Munoz, director of Queen's Centre for Neuroscience Studies, they are using the university's functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) facility to measure differences in brain activity in children with developmental disorders such as FASD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). They are building a database of task performance and brain functioning across many clinical populations.
"This is very exciting because it points us toward using eye movements to show differences in clinical populations," says Dr. Reynolds. "Once we understand what 'typical' development looks like, we can use the same tools to identify signature characteristics of each of the disorders."
Defined as birth defects resulting from a mother's consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, FASD is believed to affect approximately one per cent of children in Canada. FASD is associated with hyperactivity, difficulty in learning, and deficits in memory, understanding and reasoning, as well as problems dealing with stress.
In the absence of confirmed maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the diagnosis of FASD remains a significant clinical challenge. "The ability to objectively assess brain function at earlier and earlier ages will be hugely beneficial in the long term, because it will help identify the at-risk children for whom targeted interventions will have the greatest impact," says Dr. Reynolds.
|Contact: Nancy Dorrance|