News | Neuro Imaging | April 27, 2018

Brain Scans May Help Diagnose Neurological, Psychiatric Disorders

Study shows that brain networks reliably track individuals over time

Brain Scans May Help Diagnose Neurological, Psychiatric Disorders

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. Image courtesy of Caterina Gratton.

April 27, 2018 — There are no laboratory tests to diagnose migraines, depression, bipolar disorder and many other ailments of the brain. Doctors typically gauge such illnesses based on self-reported symptoms and behavior. Now, a new study shows that a kind of brain scan called functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI), which shows how brain regions interact, can reliably detect fundamental differences in how individual brains are wired. As such, the technique potentially could be used to distinguish healthy people from people with brain diseases or disorders, and provide insight into variations in cognitive ability and personality traits.

The findings were published April 18 in Neuron.

"This is a step toward realizing the clinical promise of functional connectivity MRI," said senior author Steven Petersen, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in Neurology and a professor of neurosurgery, of biomedical engineering, of psychological and brain sciences, and of radiology. "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."

Petersen, postdoctoral researcher and first author Caterina Gratton, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed a set of data collected by the Midnight Scan Club, a group of Washington University scientists who took turns undergoing myriad scans in an MRI machine late at night, when the demand for such machines and, consequently, the usage fees tend to be low.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 10 hours of fcMRI scans on each of nine people, collected in 10 separate one-hour sessions for each person. During the scans, each person performed tasks related to vision, memory, reading or motor skills, or rested quietly.

Functional MRI scans generate a dynamic map of the outer surface of the brain, showing changing hot spots of activity over time. To create a functional connectivity map, Gratton divided the brain's surface into 333 regions and identified areas that became active and inactive in unison. She then constructed brain network maps for each individual, showing patterns of correlation between parts of the brain.

The sheer quantity of data available on each person allowed her to analyze how much an individual's brain networks changed from day to day and with different mental tasks.

The answer? Not much.

"Brain networks captured by fcMRI are really about the individual," Gratton said. "Whether someone's watching a movie or thinking about her breakfast or moving her hands makes only a small difference. You can still identify that individual by her brain networks with a glance."

The consistency of the fcMRI scans makes them a promising diagnostic tool. Although the technique's potential to identify brain disorders and diseases was noted years ago, fcMRI-based diagnostic tests have yet to make their way into doctors' offices. Progress has been stymied by confusion over whether the scans reflect fundamental, stable features of the brain, or if they change with every passing thought.

Further, the researchers found that the technique was powerful enough to distinguish people who were extraordinarily alike. All of the scanned brains belonged to young, healthy scientists and doctors.

"We need more data before we can know what is normal variation in the population at large," Gratton said. "But the individual differences were really easy to pick up, even in a population that is really very similar. It's exciting to think that these individual differences may be related to personality, cognitive ability, or psychiatric or neurological disease. Thanks to this work, we know we have a reliable tool to study these possibilities."

For more information: www.cell.com/neuron

 

Related Content

 Many patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remain unresponsive after surviving critical illness. Investigators led by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) now describe a patient with severe COVID-19 who, despite prolonged unresponsiveness and structural brain abnormalities, demonstrated functionally intact brain connections and weeks later he recovered the ability to follow commands

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 08, 2020
July 8, 2020 — Many patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (...
This is Figure 2 from the article in Radiology: Acute encephalopathy. A 60 year-old-man without history of seizures presenting with convulsion. (A-B) Multifocal areas of FLAIR hyperintensity in the right cerebellum (arrows in A), left anterior cingular cortex and superior frontal gyrus (arrows in B). (C-D) Restricted diffusion in the left anterior cingulate cortex, superior frontal and middle temporal gyrus (arrows in D) and right cerebellum (arrows in E), consistent with cerebellar diaschisis. F)  #COVID19

This is Figure 2 from the article in Radiology: Acute encephalopathy. A 60 year-old-man without history of seizures presenting with convulsion. (A-B) Multifocal areas of FLAIR hyperintensity in the right cerebellum (arrows in A), left anterior cingular cortex and superior frontal gyrus (arrows in B). (C-D) Restricted diffusion in the left anterior cingulate cortex, superior frontal and middle temporal gyrus (arrows in D) and right cerebellum (arrows in E), consistent with cerebellar diaschisis. F) No hemosiderin deposits in gradient echo sequences.

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 06, 2020 | Dave Fornell, Editor
Four recent radiology studies, from New York, Italy, Iran and China, show how...
A patient implanted with the Axonics System can undergo MRI examinations safely with radio frequency (RF) Transmit Body or Head Coil under the conditions outlined in the Axonics MRI Conditional Guidelines.

A patient implanted with the Axonics System can undergo MRI examinations safely with radio frequency (RF) Transmit Body or Head Coil under the conditions outlined in the Axonics MRI Conditional Guidelines.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 02, 2020
July 2, 2020 — Axonics Modulation Technologies, Inc., a medical technology company that has developed and is commerci
This data represents wave 2 of a QuickPoLL survey conducted in partnership with an imagePRO panel created by The MarkeTech Group (TMTG), regarding the effects of COVID-19 on their business

Getty Images

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 01, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Researchers reviewed results of prostate biopsies on over 3,400 men who had targets identified on prostate MRI and found that the positive predictive value of the test for prostate cancer was highly variable at different sites
News | Prostate Cancer | July 01, 2020
July 1, 2020 — Prostate MRI is an emerging technology used to identify and guide treatment for...
R2* maps of healthy control participants and participants with Alzheimer disease. R2* maps are windowed between 10 and 50 sec21. Differences in iron concentration in basal ganglia are too small to allow visual separation between patients with Alzheimer disease and control participants, and iron levels strongly depend on anatomic structure and subject age. Image courtesy of Radiological Society of North America

R2* maps of healthy control participants and participants with Alzheimer disease. R2* maps are windowed between 10 and 50 sec21. Differences in iron concentration in basal ganglia are too small to allow visual separation between patients with Alzheimer disease and control participants, and iron levels strongly depend on anatomic structure and subject age. Image courtesy of Radiological Society of North America

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 01, 2020
July 1, 2020 — Researchers using magnetic...
In new QuickPoLL survey on imaging during the pandemic, responses were tallied from around 170 radiology administrators and business managers, who are part of an imagePRO panel created by The MarkeTech Group (TMTG), regarding the effects of COVID-19 on their business. TMTG is a research firm specializing in the medical device, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | June 30, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Cardiac MR can offer data above and beyond anatomical imaging, which is the main reason why this system was installed at Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Dallas. The system is a dedicated heart MRI scanner.

Cardiac MR can offer data above and beyond anatomical imaging, which is the main reason why this system was installed at Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital in Dallas. The system is a dedicated heart MRI scanner.

News | Pediatric Imaging | June 29, 2020
June 29, 2020 — A type of smart magnetic r...
Thoracic findings in a 15-year-old girl with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). (a) Chest radiograph on admission shows mild perihilar bronchial wall cuffing. (b) Chest radiograph on the third day of admission demonstrates extensive airspace opacification with a mid and lower zone predominance. (c, d) Contrast-enhanced axial CT chest of the thorax at day 3 shows areas of ground-glass opacification (GGO) and dense airspace consolidation with air bronchograms. (c) This conformed to a mosai

Thoracic findings in a 15-year-old girl with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). (a) Chest radiograph on admission shows mild perihilar bronchial wall cuffing. (b) Chest radiograph on the third day of admission demonstrates extensive airspace opacification with a mid and lower zone predominance. (c, d) Contrast-enhanced axial CT chest of the thorax at day 3 shows areas of ground-glass opacification (GGO) and dense airspace consolidation with air bronchograms. (c) This conformed to a mosaic pattern with a bronchocentric distribution to the GGO (white arrow, d) involving both central and peripheral lung parenchyma with pleural effusions (black small arrow, d). image courtesy of Radiological Society of North America

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | June 26, 2020
June 26, 2020 — In recent weeks, a multisystem hyperinflammatory condition has emerged in children in association wit