The ability to predict events based on information from past experiences, called "predictive coding", is essential for adapting to environmental changes. This is impaired in several neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability and autism. 2% of Canadians experience abnormally increased growth of the head (macrocephaly) during their first year of life, which could lead to the presence of neurodevelopmental disorders. Preliminary results from our laboratory indicate that several characteristic symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders, only later diagnosed, can be found in macrocephalic children. Moreover, neuronal connection abnormalities, observed in neurodevelopmental disorders, are present in macrocephalic infants.
The objective of the proposed project is to examine the influence of the neuroanatomy of the developing brain on predictive coding in macrocephalic infants vs those with normal head size. We hypothesise that macrocephaly during infancy reduces predictive coding ability, due to particular brain features that could generate alterations in the processing of information. To test this hypothesis, the EEG signals from healthy and macrocephalic infants will be compared when performing two EEG tasks: neuronal suppression (RS) and the oddball, which have been used in young children. 2 and 3D transfontanelle ultrasound will also be used to more precisely explore the link between brain features and predictive coding ability in macrocephalic infants.
This project will contribute to a better understanding of biomarkers that predict neurodevelopmental disorders. It will facilitate the establishment an early diagnosis of neurodevelopemental disorders, which affect many Canadians, making earlier interventions possible. In addition, the study will clarify the macrocephalic infant clinical follow-up.