Neuroimaging Studies of Previously Institutionalized Infants Adopted in the US Although much media attention has focused on the abnormal behavioral development of children adopted from institutional orphanages, to date no one has examined how brain structure or function correlates with these abnormal behaviors. This study attempts to examine, using fMRI, the relation between brain structural and functional development and behavioral outcomes in children adopted from institutional orphanages.
IMAGING OF FORMERLY INSTITUTIONALIZED CHILDREN ADOPTED IN THE U.S.
Much is known about the outcomes of children who are adopted after being institutionalized, such as attentional, emotional, and behavioral disturbances. However, little is known about how institutionalization affects the structure and function of the brain, which in turn affects the observed behavioral outcomes.
This study examines whether observed aberrant behavior in previously institutionalized children correlates with MRI-based morphometry (the size and shape of brain structures) or patterns of brain activity detected using fMRI. If so, the study will further examine whether there are clusters of brain regions that reveal the neural circuitry involved in disruption of behavioral regulation, atypical behavior, or attachment disturbances. This study will also seek to examine resilience factors that protect these children from exhibiting aberrant or atypical behaviors: Is there anything different about the brains of children who survive institutionalization without evidence of behavioral or social problems? Likewise, is there anything about the childs history (e.g., age of adoption) that we may be able to extract that is informative about the effects of timing and duration of institutionalization?