Most brain related diseases are identified through the symptoms that patients experience. Real, direct testing may be on the horizon thanks to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis who have been looking at whether functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI), a new technique that maps outs the interconnectedness of the brain, may help spot unusual patterns and therefore disease.
The team focused on spotting “fundamental differences” in the wiring of the brains of individual human volunteers. “This is a step toward realizing the clinical promise of functional connectivity MRI,” in a statement said study lead Steven Petersen, PhD. “Before we can develop diagnostic tests based on fcMRI, we need to know what it is actually measuring. We show here that it’s not measuring what you’re thinking, but how your brain is organized. That opens the door to an entire new field of clinical testing.”
In the study, nine individuals spent hours in an MRI machine performing different tasks, including for memory, reading, and motor control. The MRI data was gathered and each brain broken up into more than 300 sections, following which the activity within the connections between the regions were mapped.
The results were that each person had unique functional connectivity maps and that it may be true that spotting changes in these could be a way to identify brain conditions.
Image: Brain networks from nine people were analyzed to generate the heat map above, which shows the areas that change the most (red) to the least (green), from person to person. A new study shows that individual brain networks are remarkably stable from day to day and while undertaking different tasks, suggesting that finding differences between individuals could help diagnose brain disorders or diseases. Credit: Caterina Gratton