FinnBrain Neuroimaging Lab

Group Leader

Jetro J. Tuulari, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Turku

Personal Page

Group Website


Our research group studies how early life exposures, genes and environment shape the brain structure and function and how these intergenerational factors relate to health and wellbeing. The current efforts are centered around four themes:

  1. FinnBrain Birth Cohort study was launched at the University of Turku in 2010, and its purpose is to study the combined influence of environmental and genetic factors on child development and later health outcomes. It is an ongoing study and we take care of future data collections and are enthusiastically analysing the data that we have accumulated from prenatal period over the first five years of life.
  2. The Centre of Excellence for Learning Dynamics and Intervention Research (InterLearn) investigates the links between children’s learning and mental health, and the factors that explain the effectiveness of learning support interventions. We are part of InterLearn and we will be working with synergistic and partly harmonised data sets together with investigators from the University of Jyväskylä.
  3. Population neuroscience of the neural correlates of obesity and future obesity risk in (pre)adolescents is one the more recent research initiatives for us: it “endeavours to identify environmental and genetic factors that shape the function and structure of the human brain; it uses tools and knowledge of genetics, epidemiology, and cognitive neuroscience.” We use data from the ABCD Study to enable these studies and have also extended many of the brain network modelling approaches to infant MRI data stemming from the developing Human Connectome Project.
  4. Lifespan neuroscience is a new initiative that has just started. I have joined the Lifespan consortium in creation of brain growth charts for additional neuroimaging measures to accompany the volumetric growth charts that were recently created.


Group Members

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Harri Merisaari, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Co-principal investigator of the FinnBrain Neuroimaging Lab

The coordinating “pre-doctoral fellows”:

  • Elmo Pulli, MD, Coordinator of the FinnBrain Neuroimaging Lab
  • Silja Luotonen, MD, Coordinator of the FinnBrain Functional Neuroimaging

Post-Doctoral Fellows:

  • Wajiha Bano
  • Isabella Wigley (Joining Fall 2023)
  • Ru Li (Joining Fall 2023)
  • Aaron Barron (Joining Fall 2023)

Doctoral Students:

  • Niloofar Hashempour, MSc
  • Olli Rajasilta, MD
  • Silja Luotonen, MD
  • Venla Kumpulainen, MSc, MD
  • Eero Silver, MD
  • Anni Copeland, MD
  • Elmo Pulli, MD
  • Ilkka Suuronen, MSc
  • Aylin Rosberg, MSc


Collaborators & Partners

  • Brain network modelling (connectomics), Morten Kringelbach (Oxford, UK)
  • Developing Human Connectome Project, David Edwards (KCL, London, UK)
  • Lifespan consortium, Richard Bethlehem (Cambridge, UK)
  • UCI cohort, Claudia Buss, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • UCI cohort, Jerod Rasmussen, University of California, Irvine (US)


Main Funding

  • Finnish Medical Foundation
  • Emil Aaltonen Foundation
  • Sigrid Juselius Foundation
  • Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation
  • Hospital District of Southwest Finland State Research Grants


Selected Publications

  1. Karlsson H, Merisaari H, Karlsson L, Scheinin NM, Parkkola R, Saunavaara J, Lähdesmäki T, Lehtola SJ, Keskinen M, Pelto J, Lewis JD, Tuulari JJ. Association of Cumulative Paternal Early Life Stress With White Matter Maturation in Newborns. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Nov 2;3(11):e2024832. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.24832. PMID: 33231637; PMCID: PMC7686861.
  2. Acosta H, Kantojärvi K, Hashempour N, Pelto J, Scheinin NM, Lehtola SJ, Lewis JD, Fonov VS, Collins DL, Evans A, Parkkola R, Lähdesmäki T, Saunavaara J, Karlsson L, Merisaari H, Paunio T, Karlsson H, Tuulari JJ. Partial Support for an Interaction Between a Polygenic Risk Score for Major Depressive Disorder and Prenatal Maternal Depressive Symptoms on Infant Right Amygdalar Volumes. Cereb Cortex. 2020 Nov 3;30(12):6121-6134. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhaa158. PMID:32676648.
  3. Nolvi S, Tuulari JJ, Pelto J, Bridgett DJ, Eskola E, Lehtola SJ, Hashempour N, Korja R, Kataja EL, Saunavaara J, Parkkola R, Lähdesmäki T, Scheinin NM, Fernandes M, Karlsson L, Lewis JD, Fonov VS, Collins DL, Karlsson H. Neonatal amygdala volumes and the development of self-regulation from early infancy to toddlerhood. Neuropsychology. 2021 Mar;35(3):285-299. doi: 10.1037/neu0000724. PMID: 33970662.
  4. Rajasilta O, Häkkinen S, Björnsdotter M, Scheinin NM, Lehtola SJ, Saunavaara J, Parkkola R, Lähdesmäki T, Karlsson L, Karlsson H, Tuulari JJ. Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI associates with neonate local and distal functional connectivity of the left superior frontal gyrus. Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 28;11(1):19182. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-98574-9. PMID: 34584134; PMCID: PMC8478954.
  5. Bethlehem RAI, Seidlitz J, White SR, et al. Nature. 2022 Apr;604(7906):525-533. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04554-y. Epub 2022 Apr 6. Oct;610(7931):E6. PMID: 35388223; PMCID: PMC9021021.
  6. Pulli EP, Kumpulainen V, Kasurinen JH, Korja R, Merisaari H, Karlsson L, Parkkola R, Saunavaara J, Lähdesmäki T, Scheinin NM, Karlsson H, Tuulari JJ. Prenatal exposures and infant brain: Review of magnetic resonance imaging studies and a population description analysis. Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Apr 15;40(6):1987-2000. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24480. Epub 2018 Nov 19. PMID: 30451332; PMCID: PMC6865387.