Neuropsychology Neuroimaging Laboratory
Barrow scientists and physicians are conducting research on higher cerebral functions and rehabilitation outcomes with a goal of continually improving care and understanding of the central mystery of how the brain produces the mind. One of the most exciting areas of research at Barrow uses high-powered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to define areas of the brain that control specific functions. This technique, called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), is opening doors to help clinicians understand how language, movement, and memory functions are represented in the brain and how the brain recovers after injury.
The goal of the Neuropsychology Neuroimaging Laboratory is to
examine the effects of neurological diseases and injuries on cognition. State-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are used in conjunction with neuropsychological measures to map both functional recovery and deterioration. The Neuropsychology Neuroimaging Laboratory primarily focuses on patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, and other disorders.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible neurodegenerative disorder. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, as better treatments are developed, it may be possible to delay the onset of the disease enough to minimize the impact of this devastating disease. Identifying people in the earliest stage of the disease is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of new treatments. Research in the Neuroimaging Laboratory is focused on using magnetic resonance imaging and cognitive techniques to distinguish normal changes in memory functioning during aging from brain changes that occur during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Several projects are also being conducted on recovery of function. Researchers are examining structural and functional brain changes during the first 6 months after a traumatic brain injury. Findings thus far indicate that patients with a traumatic brain injury develop atrophy during this postacute phase.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging study of a normal brain, with activation of mesial temporal structures with memory task.
Some epilepsy patients undergo surgery to help manage their seizures. Functional magnetic resonance imaging is being studied as an alternative to other more invasive procedures used to determine a patient’s suitability for surgery.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to map language, motor, and other cognitive functions before surgery in patients with brain tumors and epilepsy. The information obtained from functional magnetic resonance imaging often helps the neurosurgeon to preserve as much functional tissue as possible to ensure the best cognitive outcome from surgery.