Parikh Lab

Parikh Research Lab

The goal of the Parikh Lab is to enable early detection, at birth, and prevention/treatment of neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Increased survival of extremely preterm infants has contributed to a higher prevalence of survivors with motor, cognitive, and behavioral/psychiatric abnormalities. Accurate diagnosis of these abnormalities takes 2 to 3 years. These early years are when the brain is most active in building its wiring system and optimally receptive to change and healing.

Thus, when the diagnosis is delayed by up to 3 years, precious time is lost. Newer approaches to diagnosis, prediction and prevention of developmental disabilities are urgently needed to improve the long-term quality of life of high-risk newborns.

The Parikh Lab employs advanced brain MRI tools such as volumetric, diffusion, and functional MRI for early identification of biomarkers of brain injury/delayed development that are predictive of disabilities in individual high-risk neonates/infants. For example, structural and functional connectivity biomarkers are poised to meet this critical need.

The lab’s current focus is to understand the nature of the commonly encountered diffuse white matter abnormalities and to develop early prognostic models of motor, cognitive, and behavioral abnormalities in a geographic cohort of 350 very preterm infants – The Early Prediction Study. In addition to using multivariable regression modeling, the study is employing newer machine learning/artificial intelligence approaches to uncover novel prognostic biomarkers to enhance outcome prediction of neurodevelopmental disabilities. This important step will facilitate risk stratification/early detection, at birth, to design clinical trials of targeted neuroprotective interventions during the critical window of the first 3 years after birth when brain plasticity is at its peak.

Figure. Functional connectivity MRI from four somatosensory and motor networks from very preterm infants with and without cerebral palsy (CP). The columns and green circles represent the four sensorimotor regions of interest. The red and blue circles represent regions of the brain they are connect with; red signifies a positive and blue represents a negative correlation. Infants with CP exhibited fewer sensorimotor connections (middle panel) than those without CP (top panel). The last panel displays several networks that were present in infants without CP (red connections) but were absent in infants with CP and a few hubs (blue) where infants with CP (blue) had more connections than those without CP.