Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Magnetic brain scans to diagnose common brain diseases in 60 seconds

From Science Daily:

By comparing the patterns of tiny magnetic charges in healthy brains to those afflicted with common diseases such as Alzheimer's, the team has been able to identify the patterns commonly associated with these debilitating diseases [multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and schizophrenia].

A process called magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain, has been used to examine a total of 142 volunteers during tests which last between 45-60 seconds. The team first studied 52 volunteers to find patterns of neural activity that could identify all the different illnesses. They then tested a further 46 patients to see whether the patterns found from the first group could accurately diagnose disease within a second group. Here, many of the predictors found from the first set of participants also correctly diagnosed more than 90% of subjects in the second sample.

The theory?

All behavior and cognition in the brain involves networks of nerves continuously interacting--these interactions occur on a millisecond by millisecond basis. The MEG has 248 sensors that record the interactions in the brain on a millisecond by millisecond basis, much faster than current methods of evaluation such as the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which takes seconds to record. The measurements they recorded represent the workings of tens of thousands of brain cells.
Wow. I hope it works out, this would be an awesome tool for diagnosing, and thereby helping us choose treatments for some difficult to treat diseases.

No comments: