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Brain wave patterns an indicator of future neurodevelopmental issues: study

Brainwaves in otherwise healthy youngsters may be an accurate indicator of future neurodevelopmental deficiencies. That’s the main takeout from a study by Dr Simon Finnigan from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research and the Royal Brisbane Clinical Unit.

“Clinical symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders – affecting movement, vision or other functions – often do not become evident until the toddler years or later,” Finnigan said. “If our measure is found to accurately predict outcomes, it could allow for early interventions and therapies to begin at the earliest possible opportunity, when they can be most effective.

“Our preliminary results in data from the first 60 babies look very promising.”

The study involves performing an electroencephalogram, or EEG, and then analysing the results to find patterns consistent with brain activity disorders. Finnigan has been heavily influenced by research into the brain activity of people who have suffered strokes.

“Our detailed analyses involve converting the EEG signals into objective measures of brain function, like blood pressure or a Richter scale,” Finnigan said.

“When we applied this analysis in the babies, we were surprised they had so much slow brain activity: typically about one wave per second compared to 8-to-10 in adults.”

Finnigan now wants to expand his research to 150 test subjects.

“Through investigating this in a large cohort we will determine the accuracy of predicting which infants will later be found to have a neurodevelopmental deficit.

“We may find that an EEG measure alone does not provide the greatest accuracy, and it may be improved by adding one or more other measures, from a clinical assessment or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.”

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