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C-PALSY  August 2005

C-PALSY August 2005

Subject:

FYI : fMRI Health Scan: Listening in on single brain cells

From:

Meir Weiss <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

St. John's University Cerebral Palsy List

Date:

Tue, 23 Aug 2005 09:23:59 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (110 lines)

Health Scan: Listening in on single brain cells


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, THE JERUSALEM POST  Aug. 21, 2005 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nearly everybody has heard of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) as a way of
scanning the inside of the body, yet few laymen know about functional MRI (fMRI)
 a heavily used neuroscience research and clinical tool. But until now, no
researcher has been able to correlate actual electrical activity in brain cells
with fMRI signals. Now neuroscientists at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot and
the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have done just that. Their
findings appear in the August edition of Science. 

At UCLA, the research team recorded responses of single brain cells in the
auditory cortex of two pre-surgical patients wired with intracranial electrodes
as they watched a nine-minute clip of the 1967 movie, The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly. They then used the data to accurately predict the configuration of fMRI
signals measured in 11 healthy subjects as they watched the same clip while
lying in an MRI scanner on the other side of the globe near Tel Aviv. 

"Although functional magnetic resonance imaging is widely accepted as an
important research tool, the relationship between fMRI signals in the brain and
the underlying neuronal activity has been unclear until now," said study
co-investigator and corresponding author Dr. Itzhak Fried,
professor-in-residence of neurosurgery, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at
UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience
and Human Behavior. 

The study was conducted in collaboration with Rafael Malach at the Weizmann
Institute; the lead author was Roy Mukamel, with Hagar Gelbard and Amos Arieli
of Weizmann's department of neurobiology and Uri Hasson of the Center for Neural
Science at New York University. 

"Our findings help validate the use of fMRI in a wide array of leading-edge
neuroscience research. However, additional research will be needed to see
whether this striking correlation between fMRI signals and single neuronal
activity exists in brain regions other than the auditory cortex," Fried
cautioned. 

Most neurobiological research involves animals, tissue removed from human
cadavers, or one of a range of imaging techniques. The magnetic properties of
blood allow fMRI to show changes in neural activity as a measure of blood flow
in the brain. The technique is popular because it is safer and less invasive
than some other imaging options, such as positron emission tomography (PET). 

In contrast to imaging techniques, Fried and his UCLA team measured electrical
activity directly from the brains of consenting epilepsy patients at UCLA
Medical Center who had been wired with intracranial electrodes to identify the
seizure origin for potential surgical treatment. The study is the latest of
several landmark observations made by the UCLA team, which is probing the
underpinnings of the human mind at the single-neuron level. Two years ago, they
identified single cells in the human hippocampus specific to places during human
navigation. Earlier this year, they found that single cells can translate varied
visual images of the same item into a single instantly and consistently
recognizable concept. 

CLALIT TRACKS AGEING BRAINS
Clalit Health Services, the country's largest health fund, has reached an
agreement with NeuroTrax Corporation to use its Mindstreams computer technology
for early detection and tracking of cognitive dysfunction such as that caused by
Alzheimer's disease. Eighty percent of Israel's pensioners are among Clalit's
3.8 million members. 

Last fall, Clalit started using the patented software in its outpatient clinics.
It is comprised of a computerized battery of tests  user friendly enough for a
90-year-old who has never used a mouse. After being downloaded from the company
site, the tests take only about 30 minutes to complete and generate an instant
report for the diagnostician. The software can make it possible to distinguish
people who have only benign forgetfulness from those who are actually demented.
Although the main application is early detection of mental decline and the
tracking of cognitive function in different stages of dementia, later
applications may include mental health and learning disorders. 

Clalit medical services director Dr. Nicky Lieberman explained: "One of our most
difficult challenges is providing uniform care throughout our healthcare system,
especially for the ageing adult population. We rely on NeuroTrax to provide
objective and standardized cognitive measurement on which to base
state-of-the-art care throughout our geriatric care system. I am impressed with
the practical nature of the Mindstreams products, and with the high scientific
standards of NeuroTrax." 

NeuroTrax Corporation was established five years ago in New York, with its
development facilities in Modi'in. Its goal is to improve the practice of
medicine by offering practical low-cost products and services for neurological
and psychiatric disease management. 

"Accurate and standardized office-based measurement of cognitive function has
become critical for neurological and psychiatric disease management. NeuroTrax
offers user-friendly, technologically advanced solutions for large organizations
such as Clalit, which depend on reliable approaches to outcomes measurement,"
said NeuroTrax CEO Dr. Ely Simon, the neurologist who created Mindstreams.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This article can also be read at
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=112
4590918303&p=1006953080053

[ Back to the Article ]


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 1995-2005 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/

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