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Analysis of functional brain networks in presumed healthy adults with and without severe white matter hyperintensities

Grant number: 23/02302-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Marco Antonio Garcia de Carvalho
Grantee:Marco Antonio Garcia de Carvalho
Host Investigator: Richard Frayne
Host Institution: Faculdade de Tecnologia (FT). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Limeira , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Calgary, Canada  


White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are common brain lesions that can be visualized by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Particularly at a more advanced age (above 65 years), WMHs are present in healthy individuals as well as patients. Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MR imaging methods are generally the preferred imaging approach. The study of WMH is important because it is associated with cognitive decline and helps in the identification of cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD) components in stroke, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. The main goal of this project is to investigate brain functional connectivity (FC). FC is a measure of the strength of connections between different brain regions. In particular we are interested to know how functional networks are affected by existing cSVD brain pathology such as WHMs and to compare our findings over the lifespan of patients and older healthy adults. We propose the use of metrics derived from the analysis of complex networks and graph ranking techniques in order to better characterize and calculate similarities between FC networks. The graph-based approach allows a global way to characterize cognitive systems, exploring changes in network topology over a lifetime and/or between groups of healthy and disease populations. Datasets, such as the ongoing Calgary Normative Study (currently >450 presumed healthy individuals, aged >18 years), as well as several other patient-derived research datasets are available in Calgary for use by this project. A computational framework for data analysis and quantitative interpretation will be developed that includes the impact of WMHs. In collaboration with the Vascular Imaging Laboratory research group of the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, we will explore alternative ways of analyzing FC brain networks and hope that this project will advance our understanding of the impact of WMH and cSVD. (AU)

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