Archive for the ‘Neuroimaging’ Category

Brain Imaging Technology and MRI Brain Scan in Neurology

The niche of Brain Imaging Technology has made significant progress in the last decade and this has helped healthcare professionals across the world to better diagnose and manage neurological problems. These imaging methods are now deemed indispensable for research purposes too that is at the heart of finding better care-management for people suffering from neurological disorders and for understanding some clouded aspects of neurological studies like the effect of addiction or injuries on the brain.

The use of such progressive Brain Imaging Technology has allowed researchers to understand the complex biochemical reactions that regulate the brain’s activity. The most often used Brain Imaging Technologies include PET, SPECT, EEG and MRI and all of these are essentially non-invasive imaging methods. They can measure the electrical, chemical and biological activity within the various parts of the brain and skull, without affecting the brain in any adverse way. The non-invasive nature of such imaging technologies means that the patient isn’t subjected to any kind of discomfort when being tested and there is no risk of internally or externally injuring the patient. Perhaps, the most commonly used and preferred brain-imaging techniques are PET and MRI.

Common Brain Imaging Technology: PET

PET scan is among the most advanced of Brain Imaging techniques used today. During a PET scan, the patient is administered a small dose of a radioactive compound. Please note that this compound poses no risk in terms of harming the bodily organs. A PET scan is aimed at studying the brain activity which helps doctors to decode which parts of the brain are showing sluggish or abnormal activity or those that have become inactive. The most commonly used PET scan compound is essentially a derivative of glucose. Since glucose is immediately directed into the bloodstream, it reaches the brain rather quickly. Areas of the brain that are more active tend to take-up more glucose since they need more energy to fuel their cells. A particular kind of machine is used, called the PET scanner that measures energy emitted from the radioactive material. Actually, positively-charged particles radiated by the radioactive material collide with the negatively-charged particles in the membranes of the brain. This is the basis of how the brain images, showing different levels of activity, are obtained.

Common Brain Imaging Technology: MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is another common brain imaging method that uses a controlled amount of radio-waves along with a powerful magnetic field for creating detailed images of the nervous system, such as the central nervous system wherein everything from the nerve plexus to the important nerves and various parts of the brain are clearly captured in the form of images. Many new techniques have been introduced in this niche like Functional MRI that also measures brain activity with greater accuracy. Functional MRI is able to detect the changes in the blood-flow rather than using radioactive tracers. If a part of a brain is experiencing increased activity, there is every chance that more blood will flow towards that area.. This is actually a natural part of how the body functions, i.e. more blood is needed for replenishing oxygen being used by the brain’s cells. Thus, active sites of the brain can be decoded and that too in real time.

Neuroscience professionals tend to have different opinions regarding the utility of each of these techniques since each imaging methodology provides information about the brain’s structural and functional configuration in a slightly different manner. Thus, the accuracy of data obtained through each of the Brain Imaging Technologies is often a subject of some speculation. This is also the reason why some of the bigger healthcare facilities, particularly the research and testing centers, conduct imaging studies where two or more brain imaging techniques are integrated.