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Library of Brain Scans Highlights Children's Language Development

A nationwide team of pediatric researchers are putting together a library of brain scans to help researchers explore how children's brains develop over time.

The Cincinnati MR Imaging of Neurodevelopment, or C-MIND, study includes a database of brain scans taken from about 200 typically developing children in the Cincinnatti and Los Angeles areas from birth through 18. The scans focused in part on what parts of the brain are associated with the development of language and attention at different ages. The database also includes long-term data tracking changes in 40 children from birth through 3 and 30 children from ages 7 to 9. With the scans, researchers also collect data on students' family history and demographic backgrounds.

The project is one of several aiming to create a better picture of how typical children's brains develop over time. Early forays into cognitive neuroscience often focused on people with specific disorders, such as epilepsy, which led to persistent misunderstandings when their findings were applied to the population in general. 

For example, the database has already been used to find some increased brain activity in children with autism, countering a common theory that autism is associated with less active connections in the brain. A separate study of preschoolers, also based on the data, found that boys ages 3 to 5 had higher levels of activity in parts of the brain related to focusing attention while listening to a story than did girls of the same age.



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