Doctoral Dissertation Defense – Grace McIlvain

BME PhD Candidate Grace McIlvain will be defending her dissertation:


Imaging Mechanical Properties of the Pediatric Brain



Brain mechanical properties can be measured in vivo using an emerging phase contrast MRI technology known as magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). Mechanical properties describe underlying tissue microstructural composition, and they have been found to sensitively describe neural tissue changes in aging, neurodegenerative disease, and tumors. Interestingly, MRE properties have recently even been found to relate to cognitive function, highlighting the sensitivity of MRE to individual differences. However, brain mechanical properties have not previously been measured in vivo in any pediatric population, as MRE is an inherently long acquisition technique which was previously ill-suited for scanning challenging populations such as children. Pediatric elastography has tremendous potential to aid in understanding neural tissue differences in neurodevelopmental disorders, and to help expand scientific understanding of how tissue mechanical maturation contributes to maturation of cognitive function. The goal of this dissertation is to develop fast acquisition MRE techniques which are specifically tailored for the pediatric population and for the first time, characterize normal regional brain mechanical maturation from childhood to adulthood.