Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center have identified a noninvasive and painless way to diagnose complex brain diseases. And it’s as simple as staring at a point of light.
The research offers promise for a less-stressful, painless, and objective diagnosis for brain diseases, as well as a way to measure the effectiveness of different treatments for these diseases. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record tiny magnetic fields in the brain, the researchers recorded brain cells communicating with each other while research subjects stared at a point of light.
After applying various mathematic algorithms, the researchers were able to classify the 142 research subjects by diagnosis. Study participants fell into one of six categories, including people with Alzheimer’s disease, chronic alcoholism, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis or Sjogren’s syndrome, as well as healthy controls.
The research, led by Apostolos P. Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry, will be published in the Aug. 27, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering. “This elegantly simple test allows us to glimpse into the brain as it is working,” Georgopoulos said. “We were able to classify, with 100 percent accuracy, the various disease groups represented in the group of research subjects.” There are no good tests that measure the brain as it functions. Several tests exist to assess brain structure, but they reveal little of how the brain interacts. Currently, brain-related diseases are diagnosed with a combination of behavioral exams, psychiatric interviews, and neuropsychological testing, all which take time and can be hard on the patient, Georgopoulos said. “This discovery gives scientists and physicians another tool to assess people’s disease progression,” he said. “In the future it could be applied when studying the effect of new treatments or drug therapies.”
All behavior and cognition in the brain involves networks of nerves continuously interacting—these interactions occur on a millisecond by millisecond basis. The MEG has 248 sensors that record the interactions in the brain on a millisecond by millisecond basis, much faster than current methods of evaluation such as the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which takes seconds to record. The measurements they recorded represent the workings of tens of thousands of brain cells.
Georgopoulos and his team were inspired to try to use the MEG as a diagnostic tool after discovering that neural interactions across human subjects were very similar. The team published on this novel way to assess the dynamic interactions of brain networks acting in synchrony in a 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Now the team will continue to collect more data on the six disease groups, as well as begin to analyze research subjects with other brain diseases, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and Parkinson’s disease, to see if the same technique can be applied.
Sara E. Buss | EurekAlert!
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy