Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Susan Young Rojahn

A View from Susan Young Rojahn

Tracking Brain Connections in Utero

Researchers use fMRI to detect strengthening brain circuits.

  • February 20, 2013

Researchers have mapped how neuronal connections develop in the healthy human fetus. Their results were published online on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit studied the brains of 25 healthy second- and third-trimester fetuses. With fMRI, the team could detect neuronal circuits that connect one part of the brain to another. They saw that the neuronal connections that cross from one hemisphere of the brain to the other strengthen as a fetus ages. While those findings aren’t all that surprising, it’s interesting to think about what we could learn about the hidden development of fetuses. While many developmental disabilities such as autism and mental retardation have their start in the womb, they are usually diagnosed years after birth, which can make it difficult to understand their origin, say the researchers in the report.  The team’s results show that fMRI techniques can elucidate the process of normal brain development and could help clinicians identify abnormal development earlier.

Image: A 31-week-old female fetus. Credit: Rob Widdis

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.