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Early Brain Development Study logoAbout Us

The UNC Early Brain Development Study, led by John Gilmore MD, is a longitudinal study of early childhood brain development and its relationship to cognitive development and risk for psychiatric disorders.  The study combines structural, diffusion-weighted, and functional neuroimaging with genetic, environmental, and behavioral assessments to study brain development in healthy children, twins, and those at risk for developing neuropsychiatric disorders. The overall goal of our research is to better understand early human brain development and to identify early imaging biomarkers of cognitive and behavioral outcomes that will allow early identification of risk and early intervention to improve outcomes.  The over 1000 children participating in the study were enrolled prenatally and are being followed longitudinally from birth to age 14 years of age. 

Current Funding

HD053000: Early Brain Development in 1 and 2 Year Olds

MH070890:  Early Brain Development in Twins

MH111944:  The Origins of Preadolescent Risk for Psychiatric Disorders in Early Childhood Brain Development

Recent Publications

Ahn SJ, Cornea E, Murphy V, Styner M, Jarskog LF, Gilmore JH.  White matter development in infants at risk for schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Research 2019 (In Press).

Girault JB, Cornea E, Goldman BD, Jha SC, Murphy VA, Li G, Wang L, Shen D, Knickmeyer RC, Styner M, Gilmore JH. Cortical structure and cognition in infants and toddlers.  Cerebral Cortex 2019 (In Press).

Girault JB, Munsell BC, Puechmaille D, Goldman BD, Prieto JC, Styner M, Gilmore JH.  White matter connectomes at birth accurately predict cognitive abilities at age 2. NeuroImage 2019, [Epub ahead of print].

Gilmore JH, Knickmeyer RC, Gao W. Imaging structural and functional brain development in early childhood. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2018; 19:123-137.

Jha S, Xia K, Schmitt JE, Ahn M, Girault JB, Murphy VA, Li G, Wang L, Shen D, Zou F, Zhu H, Styner M, Knickmeyer RC, Gilmore JH. Genetic influences on neonatal cortical thickness and surface area. Hum Brain Mapp. 2018;39:4998-5013.

Knickmeyer RC, Xia K, Lu Z, Ahn M, Jha SC, Zou F, Zhu H, Styner M, Gilmore JH.  Impact of demographic and obstetric factors on infant brain volumes, a population neuroscience study.  Cereb Cortex. 2017; 27:5616-5625


We offer training opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students as well as postdoctoral fellows. For information on how to join our lab, please contact Dr. Gilmore or Dr. Styner.  Dr. Gilmore is a member of the Neuroscience Curriculum, a Ph.D. training program that admits students through the larger Biological and Biomedical Science Program at UNC.


For questions about the lab or ongoing studies, please contact:

John H. Gilmore, MD
Principal Investigator
Director of the Early Brain Development Group
(919) 445-0209

Martin Styner, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Computer Science
Co-Director of the UNC Neuro Image Research and Analysis Laboratory (NIRAL)
(919) 962- 1909

Jenny Quesenberry
Lead Study Coordinator
(919) 843-2389