Neuroimaging studies of typically developing children and adolescents have provided valuable information on global and regional developmental trajectories of brain development. As these studies become larger and population-based, they are generating an intersection between the fields of developmental neuroscience and epidemiology. However, few of these studies have adequately probed the contribution of multiple environmental and genetic factors on brain development. Studies designed to optimally evaluate the role of multiple environmental and genetic factors on brain development require both large sample sizes and the prospective collection of multiple environmental factors. The Generation R Study is a large, prospective, prenatal-cohort study of nearly 10,000 children that began in 2002 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In September of 2009, 6-8 year old children from the Generation R Study were invited to participate in a magnetic resonance imaging component of the study. We provide an overview of the study design and experience for the first 801 children recruited for the neuroimaging component of the study. The protocol includes a 1-h neuropsychological assessment using the NEPSY-II, a mock scanning session, and a neuroimaging session that includes high-resolution structural, diffusion tensor, and resting-state functional MRI sequences. Image quality has been good to excellent in over 80 % of the children to date. The infusion of imaging into the Generation R Study will set the stage for evaluating the role of multiple environmental and genetic factors in both typical and atypical neurodevelopment.

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European Journal of Epidemiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

White, T., El Marroun, H., Nijs, I., Schmidt, M., van der Lugt, A., Wielopolki, P., … Verhulst, F. (2013). Pediatric population-based neuroimaging and the Generation R Study: The intersection of developmental neuroscience and epidemiology. European Journal of Epidemiology, 28(1), 99–111. doi:10.1007/s10654-013-9768-0