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!
Newly discovered 'multicomponent' virus can infect animals
26.08.2016 | US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab
26.08.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...
Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.
In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...
Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.
Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...
A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.
25.08.2016 | Event News
24.08.2016 | Event News
12.08.2016 | Event News
29.08.2016 | Materials Sciences
29.08.2016 | Life Sciences
29.08.2016 | Medical Engineering