CHBH & CDS Seminar Series: Dr Kyung-Min An

Thursday 25 November 2021 (13:00-14:00)

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

We are delighted to announce that the Centre for Human Brain Health (CHBH) and Centre for Developmental Science (CDS) will welcome Dr Kyung-Min An, Assistant Professor at Kanazawa University, researching the neuroimaging of child development, autism spectrum disorders and preterm birth using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs), to present an online CHBH Seminar (via Zoom, with potential for a small physical audience), taking place on Thursday 25th November, 13:00-14:00 GMT.

To arrange a 1:1 meeting with either Dr Kyung-Min An, please contact us.

If you wish to attend, you can register your interest using the link above.

Study on Child Development and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders using Child-customized Magnetoencephalography

Understanding the neural and cognitive development of children is one of the most crucial missions in neuroscience, and there is bountiful potential for discovery through further research. In various neuroimaging methods, magnetoencephalography (MEG) is non-invasive and comfortable to detect brain activities with high temporal and spatial resolution. MEG is thought to be one of the best neuroimaging methods for young children. We investigated child development and developmental disorders, focusing on autism spectrum disorders (ASD), using child-customized MEG system.

We found crucial neural correlates of child neural and cognitive development from the auditory-related brain activity. Compared to other brain regions, the auditory cortex slowly matures, and children show immature auditory brain activity. This auditory neural plasticity largely occurs as a response to human-voice stimuli, which are presented more often than other auditory stimuli. Early psychologists have proposed that sensory processing and intelligence are closely related to each other. Based on the auditory neural plasticity and early psychological theory, we could find the age-related and intelligence-related changes in the auditory-related brain activities.

In addition, we investigated the brain oscillations and oscillatory coupling in children with ASD. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and repetitive behaviours with restricted interests. In parallel to their core characteristics, the motor dysfunctions have been widely reported in ASD. We developed a video game-like motor task involving 100 button presses and acquired child MEG data during the motor task. The children with ASD showed aberrant beta and gamma oscillations and beta-high gamma oscillatory coupling during motor control, compared with typically developing children. Using oscillatory power and oscillatory coupling, we investigated a potential biomarker for ASD.

Our findings provide an important clue about child development and autism spectrum disorders as a neurophysiological aspect. For future studies, multidisciplinary studies would be helpful to understand these underlying brain mechanisms. We hope to find the typical trajectory of child brain development from a large sample size with a broad age range. Based on the typical trajectory, we hope to find a biomarker for developmental disorders. We have tried to see the feasibility of using optically pumped magnetometers and are looking forward to applying these to the study on child development and developmental disorders.

Speaker Biography

Kyung-min An took her BA in Psychology at Chungnam National University, Republic of Korea. She took her MSc in Medical Physics at the University of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea. During her MSc, she started the neuroimaging study using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and studied on the neurophysiological brain responses to the somatosensory perception. She took her PhD in Child Development at Osaka University, Japan. She studied on brain activities during motor control in children with autism spectrum disorders using child-customized MEG. As a postdoctoral fellow she focused on the neural and cognitive development in typically developing children at the Research Center for Child Mental Development, Kanazawa University, Japan.

Since 2020, she has been employed as an assistant professor at the Kanazawa University. Her current research is focused on the topic of neuroimaging of child development, autism spectrum disorders, and preterm birth using MEG and optically pumped magnetometer. Her research has been funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Collaborative Research Network for Asian Children with Developmental Disorders.

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

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