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Cambridge Babylab

BRIGHT Project

The Brain Imaging for Global HealTh (BRIGHT) Project is a collaborative project led by a team of researchers from London, Cambridge and the Gambia. The project is a longitudinal, multi-method study that follows infants in the UK and The Gambia from birth to the age of 24 months.

The aim of the project is to establish infants’ brain function growth curves in both these settings, in order to gain an insight into the effects that malnutrition, environmental difficulties, and other issues related to living in a low-resource settings, may have on infant neurocognitive development.

To achieve this objective, the BRIGHT project involves numerous assessments that include not only behavioural  assessments, anthropometrical measures or questionnaires, but also the implementation of neuroimaging techniques such as Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and Electroencephalography (EEG). In this way, the BRIGHT project is the first to use brain imaging on infants in The Gambia.

Lab Members Bio:

Dr. Sarah Lloyd-Fox: I am interested in studying how infants' cognitive abilities develop over the first year of life. I primarily use a neuroimaging technique known as functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and have pioneered its use with infants over the last ten years. Specifically my work focuses on the investigation of cortical responses to social cues and the application of fNIRS to the study of compromised development. The latter includes the study of infants at risk for autism, and recent work taking fNIRS to rural Africa to study undernutrition.

I am also pursuing technical advances in the use of fNIRS with infants to improve the precision and reliability of cortical measurements.

Dr. Maria Crespo-Lladó: I received my PhD in Psychology from Lancaster University under the supervision of Dr. Elena Geangu, Dr. Eugenio Parise, and Prof. Gavin Bremner in 2018. My dissertation work was focused on the mechanisms involved in the generation of empathy in infancy. Specifically, I investigated the neural correlates underlying affect sharing and theory of mind taking into account individual differences. I also had the chance to explore the role of facial mimicry on affect sharing in infancy. In my research I used multiple tools including EEG, EMG and behavioural measures. I joined the Cambridge Babylab in January 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow to work on the Brain Imaging for Global HealTh (BRIGHT) project. The project is a longitudinal, multi-method study that follows infants in the UK and The Gambia from birth to the age of 24 months. This project aims to establish infants’ brain function growth curves in both these settings, in order to gain an insight into the effects that malnutrition and environmental difficulties may have on infant neurocognitive development. My main focus within the project is to examine whether the linguistic environment of UK and Gambian infants has an impact on vocabulary growth and language processing efficiency across the second year of life. I am also interested on investigating the relationship between early brain responses to audio-visual social cues and later language development.

Marta Perapoch Amado: Hello! My name is Marta and I am one of the researchers working at Cambridge BabyLab. I studied Psychology and did a MSc in Neuroscience, both in Barcelona, my home city. 

My interest is in early development and how the environment interacts with the body to build brain architecture and influence children's growth and development. I am very enthusiastic about the role that early experiences (like parent-infant relationships or environmental, socio-cultural and individual differences) play in early development and examine the link between early life risk factors and infant development. 

All this led me to join the team in March 2018. Here I work on the BRIGHT project, a longitudinal study from birth to 24 months of age that aims to establish brain function-for-age curves of infants from the UK and the Gambia, to gain an insight into the effects that malnutrition and environmental factors may have on development.

Giulia Ghillia: I received my BSc in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from the University of Westminster. My dissertation was an electrophysiological study designed to investigate how compatible and incompatible visual-motor experience with actions, influences motor cortex activation to validate the use of sensorimotor alpha suppression as measure to test Hayes' associative learning account in the infant population. During my BSc studies, I have volunteered for two years at the CBCD-babylab in London where I developed a strong interest for brain development, particularly on how environmental, socio-cultural and familial risk factors contribute to brain connectivity and neuronal development during the first two years of life. Furthermore, I am very interested in working with neuroimaging techniques such as near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate how different networks, develop over time and under specific conditions.

I am currently working on the BRIGHT project. BRIGHT is a multidisciplinary and longitudinal study which aims to establish brain function-for-age curves of infants in both England and Africa, in order to gain an insight into the effects that malnutrition, social or environmental difficulties and increased risk of disease, may have on infant development.