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Major advance in MRI allows much faster brain scans
Date:1/5/2011

An international team of physicists and neuroscientists has reported a breakthrough in magnetic resonance imaging that allows brain scans more than seven times faster than currently possible.

In a paper that appeared Dec. 20 in the journal PLoS ONE, a University of California, Berkeley, physicist and colleagues from the University of Minnesota and Oxford University in the United Kingdom describe two improvements that allow full three-dimensional brain scans in less than half a second, instead of the typical 2 to 3 seconds.

"When we made the first images, it was unbelievable how fast we were going," said first author David Feinberg, a physicist and adjunct professor in UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and president of the company Advanced MRI Technologies in Sebastopol, Calif. "It was like stepping out of a prop plane into a jet plane. It was that magnitude of difference."

For neuroscience, in particular, fast scans are critical for capturing the dynamic activity in the brain.

"When a functional MRI study of the brain is performed, about 30 to 60 images covering the entire 3-D brain are repeated hundreds of times like the frames of a movie but, with fMRI, a 3-D movie," Feinberg said. "By multiplexing the image acquisition for higher speed, a higher frame rate is achieved for more information in a shorter period of time."

"The brain is a moving target, so the more refined you can sample this activity, the better understanding we will have of the real dynamics of what's going on here," added Dr. Marc Raichle, a professor of radiology, neurology, neurobiology, biomedical engineering and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis who has followed Feinberg's work.

Because the technique works on all modern MRI scanners, the impact of the ultrafast imaging technique will be immediate and widespread at research institutions worldwide, Feinberg said. In addition to broadly advancing the
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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