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Implementing neuroimaging and eye tracking methods to assess neurocognitive development of young infants in low-and middle-income countries

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Laura Katus, Nathan J. Hayes, Luke Mason, Anna Blasi, Samantha McCann, Momodou K. Darboe, Michelle de Haan, Sophie E. Moore, Sarah Lloyd-Fox, Clare E. Elwell

Original languageEnglish
Article number1113
JournalGates Open Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

King's Authors


Infants and children in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are frequently exposed to a range of environmental risk factors which may negatively affect their neurocognitive development. The mechanisms by which factors such as undernutrition and poverty impact development and cognitive outcomes in early childhood are poorly understood. This lack of knowledge is due in part to a paucity of objective assessment tools which can be implemented across different cultural settings and in very young infants. Over the last decade, technological advances, particularly in neuroimaging, have opened new avenues for research into the developing human brain, allowing us to investigate novel biological associations. This paper presents functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), electroencephalography (EEG) and eye tracking (ET) as objective, cross-cultural methods for studying infant neurocognitive development in LMICs, and specifically their implementation in rural Gambia, West Africa. These measures are currently included, as part of a broader battery of assessments, in the Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) project, which is developing brain function for age curves in Gambian and UK infants from birth to 24 months of age. The BRIGHT project combines fNIRS, EEG and ET with behavioural, growth, health and sociodemographic measures. The implementation of these measures in rural Gambia are discussed, including methodological and technical challenges that needed to be addressed to ensure successful data acquisition. The aim is to provide guidance to other groups seeking to implement similar methods in their research in other LMICs to better understand associations between environmental risk and early neurocognitive development.

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