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

Densitas Wins Major Procurement of Breast Density Software for DIMASOS Breast Screening Trial
News | Breast Density | September 20, 2019
Densitas Inc. announced it has won a procurement of its densitas densityai software for deployment in up to 24 breast...
Screening Mammography Could Benefit Men at High Risk of Breast Cancer
News | Mammography | September 18, 2019
Selective mammography screening can provide potentially lifesaving early detection of breast cancer in men who are at...
Radiation After Immunotherapy Improves Progression-free Survival for Some Metastatic Lung Cancer Patients
News | Lung Cancer | September 18, 2019
Adding precisely aimed, escalated doses of radiation after patients no longer respond to immunotherapy reinvigorates...
Noninvasive Radioablation Offers Long-term Benefits to High-risk Heart Arrhythmia Patients
News | Radiation Therapy | September 17, 2019
September 17, 2019 — Treating high-risk heart patients with a single, high dose of...
Long-term Hormone Therapy Increases Mortality Risk for Low-PSA Men After Prostate Surgery
News | Prostate Cancer | September 16, 2019
Secondary analysis of a recent clinical trial that changed the standard of care for men with recurring prostate cancer...
Imaging Biometrics and Medical College of Wisconsin Awarded NIH Grant
News | Neuro Imaging | September 09, 2019
Imaging Biometrics LLC (IB), in collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), has received a $2.75 million...
ASNC Announces Multisocietal Cardiac Amyloidosis Imaging Consensus
News | Cardiac Imaging | September 09, 2019
September 9, 2019 — The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) published a new expert consensus document along
AJR Publishes Gender Affirmation Surgery Primer for Radiologists. transgender radiology images,

Scout image from contrast-enhanced CT shows erectile implant; stainless steel and silicone anchors (arrow) transfixed to pubic bone are asymmetric.

News | Orthopedic Imaging | September 05, 2019
September 5, 2019 — An ahead-of-print article published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgen
Neurological Brain Markers Might Detect Risk for Psychotic Disorders

Researchers at the University of Missouri used MRI scans similar to this photo to find neurological markers in the human brain. These markers can be used to detect people at risk for developing psychotic disorders and to understand when this risk has been successfully treated. Image courtesy of Marquette University/John Kerns.

News | Neuro Imaging | September 04, 2019
Help may be on the way for people who might lose contact with reality through a psychotic disorder, such as...
Medical Imaging Rates Continue to Rise Despite Push to Reduce Their Use
News | Radiology Imaging | September 03, 2019
Despite a broad campaign among physician groups to reduce the amount of medical imaging, use rates of various scans...