Researchers in the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) have achieved the first conclusive non-invasive measurement of neural signaling in the spinal cords of healthy human volunteers.
Their technique, described today in the journal eLife, may aid efforts to help patients recover from spinal cord injuries and other disorders affecting spinal cord function, including multiple sclerosis.
"We definitely hope that this work can be translated to address many neurological disorders," said the paper's first author, Robert Barry, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the institute directed by senior author John Gore, Ph.D.
The researchers used ultra-high field functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to detect for the first time "resting state" signals between neural circuits in the human spinal column. These signals are continuously active, not in response to external stimuli.
"We see these background resting circuits as being inherent measures of function," said Gore, the Hertha Ramsey Cress Professor of Medicine, University Professor and vice chair of Research in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.
The technique may be valuable for understanding how spinal cord injury changes the "functional connectivity" between neural circuits, for example, and for assessing and monitoring recovery that occurs spontaneously or following various interventions.
"The hope is that when you have impaired function that there will be changes (in the signals)," Gore said. "We've already got evidence for that from other studies."
Studies of the "resting" brain reveal how neural circuits coordinate to control various functions and to produce different behaviors. The spinal cord has been more difficult to study because it is much smaller than the brain, and conventional fMRI isn't sensitive enough to pick up its signals.
The Vanderbilt team overcame this challenge by using an fMRI scanner with a 7 Tesla magnet, multichannel spinal cord coils, and advanced methods for acquiring and analyzing the images. One Tesla is roughly 20,000 times the strength of the magnetic field of the earth.
Co-authors Seth Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Adrienne Dula, Ph.D., research instructor, both in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, are applying advanced imaging methods to better understand human spinal cord diseases such as multiple sclerosis, while Barry has expertise in the acquisition and analysis of functional data.
Craig Boerner | Eurek Alert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy