3. Fetal MRI dataset of developing Human Connectome Project: a window at the earliest stages of brain connectivity development

Vyacheslav Karolis Presenter
King's College London
London, United Kingdom 
United Kingdom
Monday, Jun 24: 3:15 PM - 4:30 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom 101-102 
Fetal period is characterised by rapid maturational transformations of the brain structure and function. It becomes increasingly appreciated that adverse perturbations during this critical time can have long-lasting consequences, including negative implications for higher cognition and states of consciousness. Recent advances in in-utero MRI technology enable for the first time non-invasive measurement of the living fetal brain. However, there are specific challenges for acquiring high-quality data from this population, such as an inherently low signal-to-noise ratio and unconstrained motion, which together necessitate implementation of tailored pre-processing and analyses methods.

In my talk I will describe the fetal MRI cross-sectional dataset of the developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP), the first-ever open-access multimodal (anatomical, diffusion and functional) fetal dataset, that incorporates optimised scanning protocol, motion-tolerant acquisition methods, robust motion-correction preprocessing pipelines, and advanced data infrastructure. The dataset consists of 297 scanning sessions from 273 typically developing individuals of postmenstrual age 21-38 weeks, complemented by rich socio-demographic and clinical information.

The released data ensure that the maximum potential can be uncovered from the data by researchers with various scientific backgrounds. To benefit developers of methods for image analysis and reconstruction, the dataset includes outputs from different stages of preprocessing, from raw to fully processed, that can be utilised to develop novel preprocessing methods and to provide a benchmark for their performance. To benefit modelers of neurodevelopment and population variability, the dataset incorporates advanced registration infrastructure, accompanied with state-of-the-art volumetric and surface atlases, thereby providing an opportunity to synthesise anatomical, diffusion and functional data across various stages of fetal development for group-level analyses.

The dHCP fetal dataset represents an important step towards promoting fetal MRI from its current status as a niche research field to its deserved and timely place in the community-wide effort to build a life-long connectome of the human brain. These rich observational data can empower detailed models of typical developmental trajectories at a key stage of human life and, in combination with the large open-access dHCP neonatal MRI resource, provide a normative reference for studies of pathophysiology and the effects of adverse perinatal factors, such as premature birth.