Project: Neurobiological and Behavioral Consequences of Cocaine Use in Mother-Infant Dyads

To serve the clinical projects utilizing image acquisition and processing technology for MRI imaging, and for quantitative measurements of structural MRI (sMRI) and MR Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).

Neuroimaging Core: The neuroimaging core is responsible for development, validation and application of image segmentation and analysis to MRI/DTI of over 120 neonate subjects acquired at UNC Chapel Hill and of 100 adult MRI acquired at Yale


This project is a multidisciplinary, translational research endeavor that employs animal and human studies to focus on the elucidation of neurobiological and behavioral characteristics and responses of mothers that have used cocaine during pregnancy. The project also investigates children that have been prenatally exposed to cocaine, and how this exposure might degrade typical mother-infant interactions. The human projects focus on abnormalities in infant-brain structures and pathways, as well as measurements of maternal (fMRI) endocrine and neurological brain regional responses to infant stimuli (cries, visual vignettes). We hypothesize differences in behavioral, physiological and/or neurological characteristics (infant cries, infant stimulus cues, physical elicitation of care and brain structural abnormalities) of both human and rodent offspring (prenatally drug exposed versus non-exposed), which could result in a differential maternal response. This project allows researchers from different backgrounds to collaborate and identify the specific attributes of mothers and infants that might clarify how illicit drugs contribute to neglect-responses in individuals. This could result in early and continuing intervention strategies to offset some of the negative consequences in this population.

The primary objective of the University of Utah's component of the Neuroimaging Core is to serve the clinical projects utilizing image-processing technology for MRI imaging, quantitative measurements of structural MRI (sMRI), and MR Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). The service of the University of Utah includes 3D segmentation, quantitative analysis to obtain measurements of brain structures and pathways, rigorous validation and quality control, and preparation of resulting data for statistical analysis.





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  • DA022446-02