Christopher D. Smyser, M.D.

Associate Professor
Pediatric and Developmental Neurology

Neurosciences Program

  • 314-454-6120

  • 314-747-1353


  • Neurodevelopment; neonate; prematurity; psychopathology; brain injury; MRI; structural connectivity; functional connectivity

  • Investigating the effects of prematurity and other modifiable clinical and environmental risk factors on neurodevelopmental outcomes in high-risk pediatric populations

Research Abstract:

I am a board-certified pediatric neurologist driven to provide optimal outcomes for all infants at increased risk for neurodevelopmental disability. My research is focused upon the application of advanced neuroimaging techniques, including resting state-functional MRI (rs-fMRI) and diffusion MRI (dMRI), to the study of premature and high-risk term-born children from infancy through adolescence to characterize development of structural and functional connectivity and define the effects of brain injury and early life exposures on neurodevelopmental outcomes. I co-direct the Washington University Neonatal Developmental Research (WUNDER) Laboratory. Our group performs longitudinal studies correlating neonatal and childhood structural and functional connectivity findings with childhood developmental outcomes in prematurely-born infants. We are also performing a longitudinal investigation of the effects of psychosocial stressors, caregiver support and the gut microbiome on cognitive and brain development. This and related work has yielded new insight into early human brain development, while providing a platform for expanded investigation defining the impact of prematurity, brain injury and environmental exposures in high-risk populations via development and application of novel neuroimaging approaches. Our laboratory includes a multidisciplinary group of investigators from the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Radiology and Neurosurgery, with great emphasis placed on collaboration across disciplines.

Selected Publications:

1. Garcia KE, Robinson EC, Alexopoulos D, Dierker D, Glasser MF, Coalson T, Ortinau C, Rueckert D, Taber LA, Van Essen DC, Rogers CE, Smyser CD, Bayly PV. Dynamic patterns of cortical expansion during folding of the preterm human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2018; 115(12):3156-61.

2. Herzmann CS, Snyder AZ, Kenley JK, Rogers CE, Shimony JS, Smyser CD. Cerebellar functional connectivity in term- and very preterm-born infants. Cerebral Cortex 2018; 2018 Feb 6 [epub ahead of print].

3. Sylvester CM, Smyser CD, Smyser TA, Kenley JK, Ackerman JJ, Shimony JS, Petersen SE, Rogers CE. Cortical functional connectivity evident after birth and behavioral inhibition at age two. American Journal of Psychiatry 2018; 175(2):180-187.

4. Rogers CE, Sylvester CM, Mintz C, Kenley JK, Shimony JS, Barch DM, Smyser CD. Neonatal amygdala functional connectivity at rest in healthy and preterm infants and early internalizing symptoms. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2017; 56(2):157-66.

5. Smyser CD, Dosenbach NU, Smyser TA, Snyder AZ, Rogers CE, Inder TE, Schlaggar BL, Neil JJ. Prediction of brain maturity in infants using machine-learning algorithms. NeuroImage 2016; 136:1-9.

6. Ferradal SF, Liao SM, Eggebrecht AT, Shimony JS, Inder TE, Culver JP, Smyser CD. Functional imaging of the developing brain at the bedside using diffuse optical tomography. Cerebral Cortex 2016; 26(4):1558-68.

7. Smyser CD, Snyder AZ, Shimony JS, Mitra A, Inder TE, Neil JJ. Resting state network complexity and magnitude are reduced in prematurely-born infants. Cerebral Cortex 2016; 26(1):322-33.

8. Smyser CD, Snyder AZ, Shimony JS, Blazey TM, Inder TE, Neil JJ. Effects of white matter injury on resting state fMRI measures in prematurely-born infants. PLOS One 2013; 8(7):e68098.

9. Smyser CD, Snyder AZ, Neil JJ. Functional connectivity MRI in infants: Exploration of the functional organization of the developing brain. NeuroImage 2011; 56(3):1437-1452.

10. Smyser CD, Inder TE, Shimony JS, Hill JE, Degnan AJ, Snyder AZ, Neil JJ. Longitudinal analysis of neural network development in preterm infants. Cerebral Cortex 2010; 20(12):2852-2862.

Last Updated: 7/30/2018 9:46:24 AM

Connections important for differentiating premature and term-born infants using support vector machine-multivariate pattern analysis of functional connectivity MRI data (green vectors stronger in term infants, orange in preterm).
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