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News

New MRI technology at Yale

Yale University : 03 February, 2006  (New Product)
'Our approach identifies distinct brain networks of linked structural and functional changes,' said Vincent Calhoun, M.D., associate professor adjunct in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Medical Image Analysis Lab at the Institute of Living's Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center in Hartford. 'The linking of structural and functional changes is new. This is different from finding both structural and functional changes in patients which may not be related to one another.'
Yale School of Medicine researchers report a novel technique for jointly studying structural and functional changes in the brain based upon an advanced statistical approach called joint independent component analysis.

'Our approach identifies distinct brain networks of linked structural and functional changes,' said Vincent Calhoun, M.D., associate professor adjunct in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Medical Image Analysis Lab at the Institute of Living's Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center in Hartford. 'The linking of structural and functional changes is new. This is different from finding both structural and functional changes in patients which may not be related to one another.'

Magnetic resonance imaging technology is used to perform brain scans that show the structure of the brain, revealing shrinking or expanding of gray and white matter in the brain. Functional MRI imaging provides a window into where 'work' is being done by the brain. It shows changes in the brain's blood flow over time while individuals are performing particular tasks.

MRI and functional MRI are used in researching and, it is hoped, in diagnoses of schizophrenia, a mental illness that affects about one percent of the population worldwide. The biological underpinnings of the disorder are largely unknown, although there have been a number of structural and functional changes have been observed.

'Schizophrenia is thought to be a disease involving impaired brain connectivity, including a lack of coordination between different parts of the brain,' Calhoun said. 'Our findings show that schizophrenia may involve interrelated structural and functional changes.' He said it is likely that some of the functional brain changes in schizophrenia are related to structural changes in a different brain region.

The researchers analyzed data collected on a group of schizophrenia patients and healthy controls who performed an auditory oddball task, in which a series of infrequent tones, or 'oddballs,' produce a robust response in the brain. A network of linked structural and functional changes showed significant differences in schizophrenia patients when compared to healthy controls. In addition, in regions showing the largest group differences, gray matter values were larger in patients when compared to healthy controls, suggesting that more gray matter may be related to less functional activity in the auditory oddball fMRI task.
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