As a response to the Call for projects 2017 : Innovative technologies:


Brain functional connectivity describes the existence of links between distinct structures or regions of the brain, and defines the way information is processed by the neuronal network. Many psychiatric conditions and neurodevelopmental disorders (schizophrenia, autism, ADHD) are conceived today as alterations of the brain connectivity.

The project “Preclinical multimodal ultrasound imaging for investigating the developing brain connectivity” gathers a team of physicists, experts in biomedical imaging (Physics for Medicine Paris, Inserm U1273, led by Mickael Tanter) and a team of neuroscientists and geneticists, experts in autism spectrum disorders (Institut Pasteur, department of Human Genetics and Cognitive Functions, CNRS UMR 3571, led by Thomas Bourgeron), in order to develop a unique imaging system to study the brain connectivity development and its alteration in small animal models of autism spectrum disorders.

Prof. Tanter’s team will build an ultrafast ultrasound scanner, operating at several thousands of frames per second, and capable of imaging and quantifying a wide panel of functional parameters of the brain, ranging from blood flow quantification and neuronal activity mapping to tissue biomechanics characterization. This innovative ultrasound scanner will enable the non-invasive imaging of the brain functional activity of behaving small animals. Wild-type animals and mouse models of autism spectrum disorders, developed by Prof. Bourgeron’s team, will be studied during social interactions with peers. Functional connectivity maps of the brain will be extracted and combined with advanced behavioral analysis methods developed by Prof. Bourgeron’s team.

Achievement of this project is expected to bring new knowledge on the developing brain through the development of a disruptive technology that has no equivalent to date, capable of assessing non-invasively the whole-brain connectivity in awake animals with a high spatiotemporal resolution and sensitivity.