Braintools is a global project which aims to develop a ‘toolkit’ for measuring brain development in locations all over the world.
While children’s brain development can be altered by common risk factors from pregnancy onwards, diagnosable symptoms of common mental health conditions often do not become apparent until mid-childhood. However, studies in high-income countries have indicated that differences in brain functioning can be observed much earlier than behavioural differences can. In fact, cognitive signals associated with developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder have been identified, and associated with symptoms of autism at the trait level.
The aim of the Braintools project is to develop a method of measuring such cognitive markers of brain development that is optimised for low-income settings such as in India and The Gambia. The hope is that this method could then be used in large-scale projects to detect early risks of under-development and to develop early interventions for this.