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Birkbeck’s ToddlerLab partners on multi-million-pound research project funded by the European Commission

The research project is investigating the underlying mechanisms of co-morbidities in neurodevelopmental diseases and epilepsy.

Birkbeck is one of sixteen partners that are closely collaborating in the five-year international research programme that began at the beginning of this year, coordinated by Radboud University in the Netherlands. 

The project, named CANDY (Comorbid Analysis Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy), will investigate the biological links between neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and language disorders; and co-occurring somatic illnesses; such as epilepsy and motor problems. The project will be also be looking into how the treatment and monitoring of affected patients can be improved.

Birkbeck is leading the development of tools to measure brain development in toddlers with epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. These tools include electroencephalography (EEG), that measures the naturally occurring electrical activity produced when brain cells communicate with one another; and eye tracking, which determines the direction of gaze so researchers know exactly where the participant is looking. Both methods are completely safe and passive.

Professor Emily Jones, Professor in the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, said, “This is a very important project for understanding early predictors of developmental trajectories in young children with developmental challenges. These technology developments will be enabled by the new world-leading facilities in Birkbeck’s Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab, due to open later this year.”

Professor Jan Buitelaar, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Radboud University and coordinator of CANDY, added, “Together we will transform the landscape for people with neurodevelopmental disorders and make possible personalized medicine approaches that target particular mechanisms, in specific subgroups of individuals and at different life stages.”

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