The Australian Epilepsy Project (AEP) will change the lives of people living with epilepsy by reducing uncertainty surrounding diagnosis and fast-tracking the path to optimal treatment using the combination of advanced imaging, genetics, cognition, and artificial intelligence. Such improvements will result in better outcome prediction at disease onset, a higher rate of seizure freedom, reduced economic burden of disease and will increase life-participation of people with epilepsy.Read More
The Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) exists to enable national-scale research facilities, thereby facilitating Australian researchers to address critical national and global challenges effectively and efficiently. NCRIS projects provide equipment, resources, analysis tools and, importantly, expertise.Read More
MRtrix3: Advanced tools for the analysis of diffusion MRI data
Diffusion-weighted MRI (dMRI) is a commonly-used medical imaging modality for the investigation of tissue microstructure, exploiting the local hindrance and restriction of water diffusion as indirect probes. The neuroimaging research community utilises this technology extensively for the study of brain white matter in particular, reconstructing structural connectivity pathways and analysing estimated tissue properties.Read More
Head injuries, including concussion, are taken very seriously in sporting professions. To date, making an accurate diagnosis of acute concussion has been made difficult by the lack of a reliable direct biomarker for injury and recovery. This diagnostic gap can lead to unknown recovery periods and potentially long-term impacts for athletes.
Researchers at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health set out to understand functional brain changes in professional players in the Australian Football League who had been diagnosed with acute sport-related concussion.
The world-first study, published in the Journal of Concussion, utilised NIF infrastructure, the 3T Trio and Skyra MRI scanners, and NIF expertise, Facility Fellows Shawna Farquharson and David Abbott.
Functional MRI (fMRI) was undertaken to assess functional connectivity alongside anatomical imaging. Although no anatomical damage was observed, the authors described a decreased intrinsic fMRI connectivity within the right frontoparietal regions in acutely concussed footballers. In other words, all 20 concussed athletes showed reduced activity in parts of the brain responsible for executive function, working memory and switching tasks.
“By looking at how the different parts of the brain talk to each other, we can see how these three brain networks are affected, and these changes may help explain the symptoms we see in concussed players.” – Dr Mangor Pedersen, study co-author, from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.
One interesting finding in this study is that concussion appears to affect particular networks in the brain. These findings are in agreement with some of the typical clinical features of concussion; however, they are based on trends seen as a group. In future, the authors intend to investigate individual brain networks and develop guidelines for personalised treatment and recovery.
More information about concussion is available here, or by speaking to your GP.
NIF Facility Fellow Shawna Farquharson is leading the way to empower, connect, educate and inform MRI Radiographers and Technologists worldwide. Following their 2019 Annual Meeting, the Society for MR Radiographers & Technologists (SMRT), a Section of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), appointed Shawna Farquharson as its new President of SMRT. SMRT is the leading non-profit organisation that provides an international forum for education, information and research in magnetic resonance for radiographers and technologists throughout the world.Read More
Researchers at the Florey have invented a breakthrough imaging technique to describe in micro-detail the brain degeneration occurring in people with early Alzheimer’s and the full-blown disease.
Using the Siemens 3T Trio scanner at the Florey node of the National Imaging Facility (NIF), researchers have identified the precise locations of brain degeneration in a cohort of living Alzheimer’s patients. The work is important as it sheds new light on the underlying cognitive degeneration in Alzheimer’s, helping us focus our efforts to slow the decline.
To develop the technique, the team analysed brain scans from 177 Australians as part of the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle study, who were either healthy, had an early form of Alzheimer’s or had the full-blown disease.
The brain pathways identified by the team have all been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease previously; those known to be crucial for memory formation, emotion and reasoning.
Alzheimer’s disease is usually thought to be caused by abnormal production and buildup of a peptide called amyloid beta.
Professor Alan Connelly, who led the study, said, “Interestingly, the mildly affected patients with low amyloid had more fibre degeneration in particular brain regions than those with high amyloid levels. This suggests that firstly, specific degeneration of certain brain areas will not necessarily be useful in predicting which mildly impaired individuals will progress to Alzheimer’s disease, and secondly that degeneration of this pathway is related to cognitive impairment, regardless of the buildup of the amyloid peptide.
“This is an important advance for a field still struggling to come to grips with what exactly causes Alzheimer’s. Our study shows we still have a way to go in interrogating the natural history of this insidious disease,” Alan says.
Lead author Remika Mito says, “This study was conducted by comparing the averages of each group of patients against each other, in order to give us the most statistically, and biologically, relevant results. In the future, we want to be able to compare an individual patient against a normal, healthy standard, to see how far along the disease trajectory they are. Or we could compare back to their previous scans to determine what effect a new medication is having as part of a clinical trial for example.”
Remika recently explained her results in an online abstract for Brain. If you would like to more about the details of the study, head over to Youtube to view Remika explain her work.
This story was contributed by the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.
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