The UNC/UMN Baby Connectome Project (BCP): An overview of the study design and protocol development

Neuroimage. 2019 Jan 15;185:891-905. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.03.049. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


The human brain undergoes extensive and dynamic growth during the first years of life. The UNC/UMN Baby Connectome Project (BCP), one of the Lifespan Connectome Projects funded by NIH, is an ongoing study jointly conducted by investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Minnesota. The primary objective of the BCP is to characterize brain and behavioral development in typically developing infants across the first 5 years of life. The ultimate goals are to chart emerging patterns of structural and functional connectivity during this period, map brain-behavior associations, and establish a foundation from which to further explore trajectories of health and disease. To accomplish these goals, we are combining state of the art MRI acquisition and analysis techniques, including high-resolution structural MRI (T1-and T2-weighted images), diffusion imaging (dMRI), and resting state functional connectivity MRI (rfMRI). While the overall design of the BCP largely is built on the protocol developed by the Lifespan Human Connectome Project (HCP), given the unique age range of the BCP cohort, additional optimization of imaging parameters and consideration of an age appropriate battery of behavioral assessments were needed. Here we provide the overall study protocol, including approaches for subject recruitment, strategies for imaging typically developing children 0-5 years of age without sedation, imaging protocol and optimization, a description of the battery of behavioral assessments, and QA/QC procedures. Combining HCP inspired neuroimaging data with well-established behavioral assessments during this time period will yield an invaluable resource for the scientific community.

Keywords: Baby connectome project; Behavior; DTI; Infancy; Lifespan connectome project; MRI; Neurodevelopment; dMRI; rfMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Research Design