Dr. Catherine Lebel, PhD
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Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Radiology
Adjunct Associate Professor
Werklund School of Education
Child Brain & Mental Health Program Director
Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute
Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Owerko Centre
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education
B.Sc. Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, 2004
Doctor of Philosophy Medical Sciences, University of Alberta, 2010
Areas of Research
My research uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain development in children and adolescents. Using a variety of MRI techniques, I study how brain structure and function change with age, or in response to treatments and interventions. I am specifically interested in how brain maturation and brain plasticity are related to cognition and behaviour, and how these relationships may be different in children with developmental disorders. The aim of my research is to better understand brain changes, with the ultimate goal of providing earlier identification and more effective treatments for children with developmental disorders.
We study the impacts of prenatal stress, anxiety, and depression on children's outcomes including brain structure and function. One part of this theme is a large study of prenatal stress during COVID-19, the Pregnancy during the COVID-19 Pandemic study.
We study children's brain structure and function primarily using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain volumes, cortical thickness, as well as structural and functional connectivity.
We study brain differences in children who have prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). PAE can lead to long-lasting cognitive, behavioural, and neurological difficulties, including structural brain alterations. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), the neurodevelopmental disorder associated with PAE, is estimated to affect 4% of Canadians.
We use MRI to detail changes in brain volume, structural connectivity, and functional connectivity in children and youth with PAE, and link that to behaviour and mental health.
My lab aims to characterize typical brain development across childhood using MRI. We use both standard and advanced methods to detail structural and functional changes from early childhood (~2 years+) to adolescence.
We also look at links between this typical brain development and cognitive skills such as reading ability, or pre-reading language skills in young children.
- Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists & Scientists, 2020
- Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Neuroimaging, 2018
- Calgary Top 40 Under 40, 2016