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Birkbeck academic receives Wellcome Trust award for research investigating brain activity in autism spectrum conditions

The awards supports early-career researchers on the path to leading their own research programmes.

Dr Maheen Faisal Siddiqui, researcher from Birkbeck's Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, has received the prestigious Wellcome Trust Early Career Award for research. Given to only 16 people worldwide, the award provides funding for early-career researchers from any discipline who are ready to develop their research identity.

The award stipulates that projects must be innovative and deliver 'shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing.' Dr Siddiqui's research project, entitled 'Imaging the metabolic basis of atypical brain development', will map the development of typical and atypical neural activity in early maturing brains.

Dr Siddiqui commented: "The brain is the most energetically expensive organ, requiring the effective distribution of energy resources to support brain functions. Little is known about how energetic demands shape the development of the brain, specifically during infancy when the brain is known to be developing and specialising rapidly.

"In this fellowship, I will be using a novel brain imaging technique called Broadband Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (bNIRS) which allows us to measure how different regions of the brain use energy and how this influences both typical and atypical brain development in infancy."

Dr Siddiqui's project aims to improve understanding of infant brain development. This could have profound impact on the way we understand atypical neurodevelopment conditions such as autism and ultimately, enable earlier intervention

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