A 4-day MRI provided "the most detailed analysis ever done of the human brain" and could be a window into coma and depression.
- Researchers had to use the brain of a deceased person to get the images
- The usual MRI scans do not take more than 90 minutes – but it took 100 hours
- The scanner is much more powerful and could display small changes
- Research like this will help better understand brain abnormalities
A four-day MRI produced more detailed brain images than ever before.
The results show tiny changes in the brain and scientists say that they could be a window into conditions such as depression or coma.
This was only possible using the brain of a deceased person because a living person could tolerate the analysis for several days and the images would have been too blurred because of blood circulation and movements.
The scanner was also much more powerful than those of hospitals, producing images so detailed that he could see images smaller than 0.1 mm.
Scientists have said that they have never seen anything like this and hope it will pave the way for more research on brain health.
An MRI that lasted four days produced more detailed brain images than ever before.
This was only possible using the brain of a deceased person because the images would have been too blurry with a living person whose brain was functioning
Parts of the brain can be seen in great detail, including the cerebellum (photo below right) that controls the body's voluntary movements.
The images, created by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, took more than 100 hours – much more than the usual 15- to 90-minute scan.
The researchers say the result "could advance understanding of the anatomy of the human brain in health and disease."
The brain belonged to a 58-year-old woman who died of pneumonia three years ago and had no neurological injury.
Before the start of the analysis, the researchers created a custom box that keeps the brain motionless and allows it to withstand constant magnetic waves.
Parts of the brain can be seen in detail, including the amygalda, a collection of nuclei no larger than an almond, nestled deep in the brain.
Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias are suspected to be related to abnormal functioning of the amygdala due to damage or a chemical imbalance.
The cerebellum, which controls the voluntary movements of the body, is also clearly visible.
It would not have been possible to obtain these results without the powerful MRI scanner, featuring a magnetic force of seven Tesla – those of a hospital are generally three Tesla.
Or, if the brain had been that of a living person – any movement during an analysis can ruin the results, including those that come from breathing or blood circulation.
MRI scans are already used to detect various brain conditions such as tumors, swelling or developmental problems.
But no one would be able to endure hours – and days – of staying so still.
"We have not seen a complete brain like this," said Science News, Professor Priti Balchandani of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was not involved in the study.
& # 39; C & # 39; is definitely unprecedented. & # 39;
The use of post-mortem samples and developing technologies "gives us an idea of what is possible," said Professor Balchandani.
The images push the boundaries and could give clues to researchers who are trying to identify brain abnormalities that are difficult to see in disorders such as coma and psychiatric disorders.
The FDA in the United States first approved the 7T scanner for clinical imaging in 2017, which was installed at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glagow in 2016, at a cost of 10 million pounds sterling.
It is increasingly used to research and diagnose various conditions such as stroke, vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.
WHAT IS AN IMAGING MAGNETIC RESONANCE (MRI) SCAN?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of analysis that uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body's interior.
An MRI scanner is a large tube containing powerful magnets. You lie in the tube during the scan.
An MRI can be used to examine almost all parts of the body, including the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and blood vessels and internal organs, such as the liver, belly or the prostate.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of analysis that uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body's interior. An MRI scanner is a large tube containing powerful magnets. You lie in the tube during the scan
The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and evaluate the effectiveness of a previous treatment.
Most of the human body consists of water molecules, consisting of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. At the center of each hydrogen atom is an even smaller particle, called a proton. Protons look like tiny magnets and are very sensitive to magnetic fields.
When you lie down under the powerful magnets of the scanner, the protons of your body align in the same direction, in the same way that a magnet can pull the needle of a compass.
Short bursts of radio waves are then sent to certain areas of the body, which misaligns the protons. When the radio waves are turned off, the protons realign. This sends radio signals, which are picked up by the receivers.
These signals provide information on the exact location of the protons in the body. They also help distinguish different types of tissue in the body because protons of different tissue types realign at different speeds and produce distinct signals.
In the same way that millions of pixels on a computer screen can create complex images, signals from millions of protons in the body are combined to create a detailed picture of the body's interior.