Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technique puts brain-imaging research on its head

09.12.2005


It’s a scene football fans will see over and over during the bowl and NFL playoff seasons: a player, often the quarterback, being slammed to the ground and hitting the back of his head on the landing.



Sure, it hurts, but what happens to the inside of the skull? Researchers and doctors long have relied upon crude approximations made from test dummy crashes or mathematical models that infer – rather loosely – what happens to the brain during traumatic brain injury or concussion.

But the truth is that the state of the art in understanding brain deformation after impact is rather crude and uncertain because such methods don’t give any true picture of what happens. Now, mechanical engineers at Washington University in St. Louis and collaborators have devised a technique on humans that for the first time shows just what the brain does when the skull accelerates.


What they’ve done is use a technique originally developed to measure cardiac deformation to image deformation in human subjects during repeated mild head decelerations. Picture, if you will, a mangled quarterback’s occipital bone banging the ground, then rebounding. The researchers have mimicked that very motion with humans on a far milder, gentler, smaller scale and captured the movement inside the brain by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Philip Bayly, Ph.D., Lilyan and E. Lisle Hughes Professor in Engineering, Guy Genin, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Eric Leuthardt, MD, a Washington University neurosurgeon, tested seven subjects in an MRI and gathered data that show that the brain, connected to the skull by numerous vessels, membranes and nerves at the base, tries to pull away from all those attachments, leading to a significant deformation of the front of the brain. Bayly discussed the group’s findings Nov. 10, 2005, at the annual meeting of the National Neurotrauma Society in Washington, DC.

Brain movie

According to Genin, the subjects are placed in the soft netting of a head guide, and are asked to raise and lower their heads about an inch inside an MRI machine. The process is repeated several times as the MRI pieces together a complete movie of the brain’s response to these skull motions.

"Phil (Bayly) has developed a set of state-of-the-art hardware and software to synchronize and analyze all of these measurements," said Genin. "The systems he has developed will allow us to explore a broad range of questions critical to understanding mild traumatic brain injury."

"It’s an interesting thing that in many occipital impact injuries, people often find the greatest injury in the front of the brain," Bayly said. "That has been a puzzle for a long time and there have been numerous different explanations for it. What we see with the MRI is quite a bit of mechanical deformation in the front of the brain when the skull is hit from the rear. It seems to be because the brain is trying to pull away from some constraints in the front of the brain."

Bayly and his collaborators can apply the levels of deformation they have found with their subjects to in vitro experiments or to animal models to learn even more about brain matter deformation. They have done experiments on humans with the head dropping forward, and plan to study different acceleration profiles, including rotations.

"This method is a starting point that we hope will take the guesswork out of brain matter deformation analysis," Bayly said. "We can now quantify brain deformation from these very low, mild accelerations with MRI. We are working with Washington University School of Medicine faculty in hopes of some day developing therapeutic remedies for traumatic brain injuries and concussions.

"The most immediate application of our data will be in the development and validation of computer simulations of traumatic brain injury, which may ultimately reduce the need for direct experimentation."

Bayly and Genin are collaborating with David Brody, MD, Ph.D., instructor in neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Sheng K. Song, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology, on other advanced MRI techniques with the hope of finding noninvasive ways to detect and characterize brain injuries.

Tony Fitzpatrick | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>