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!
How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine
Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy