The work of Dr. Stephanie Ameis, Associate Director, Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression, Clinician Scientist, Brain Health Imaging Centre, Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute is a good example of how rapid advancements in knowledge of the brain is changing the course of brain research, with the goal that research findings can be used to guide mental health care.
While most of us are familiar with the term “grey matter” to indicate the physical brain, it is the white matter in the brain that has been the focus of much of Dr. Ameis’ autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. White matter is made up of bundles of nerve fibers that connect cell bodies across the brain, and enables communication between different brain regions.
It is believed that impairments or differences in that white matter are associated with ASD. With a special focus on the corpus callosum that connects the right and left hemispheres, Dr. Ameis found in a ground-breaking study five years ago that impairments in this region are also associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), brain disorders that were considered until recently to be distinct.