Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Robust motion correction for improved MRI of unsedated children with autism spectrum disorder

Tess Wallace, PhD


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has risen dramatically over the last few decades, with an estimated 1 in 59 (1.7%) children now identified as having ASD by age eight. Symptoms, including impaired social interaction and restricted, repetitive behaviors, are behavioral manifestations of early alterations in brain development occurring in the first years of life. GAP: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful tool for non-invasive visualization of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying ASD and provides a unique opportunity to study how structural and functional changes relate to clinical symptoms. However, patient motion is a major impediment in acquiring high-quality MRI in unsedated children, and existing motion compensation strategies are inadequate for tracking uncontrolled, fast motion in children with ASD. HYPOTHESIS: This study will test the hypothesis that motion compensation using rapidly acquired free induction decay (FID) navigators provides a measurable improvement in diagnostic image quality of structural MRI in unsedated children with ASD. METHODS: Pediatric patients and healthy adult volunteers will undergo structural MRI to develop and evaluate the performance of retrospective and prospective motion detection and correction using FID navigators. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: This study will establish the feasibility of a new technology for fast, intrinsic motion compensation that, if successful, will reduce or eliminate the need for sedation and its associated risks in children undergoing MRI. Improved, safer methods for obtaining high-quality structural MRI will also aid development of robust neuroimaging biomarkers of ASD, which in turn will enable more personalized care, including earlier, targeted interventions that can maximally benefit individuals.