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Stanford University School of Medicine

Teaching an old dog new tricks: New faster and more accurate MRI technique quantifies brain matter

When it comes to neurodegenerative diseases that erode the brain, such as multiple sclerosis, or processes that build up brain tissue, such as the formation of neural connections, the volume of our brains' white matter matters. Yet, until recently, it was difficult to assess how much white matter a brain had lost or gained, or how it compared to that of other brains, because brain scan techniques had limited speed and accuracy.

Now, a team of researchers led by Stanford postdoctoral scholar Aviv Mezer, PhD, and psychology professor Brian Wandell, PhD, have found a faster and more reliable way to apply a commonly used brain scan technique, called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to quantify the volume of different areas of the brain.

The results were recently published (subscription required) in the journal Nature Medicine; a Stanford News story provides more details.

The researchers have already applied this new brain scan technique to patients with multiple sclerosis. Next, they'll use it to measure changes in the developing brains of children.

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz. 

Previously: Can a single concussion cause lasting brain damage?Found: Potential new way to predict some multiple-sclerosis patients’ disease course, drug responseTwo different types of MS, one big step toward personalized medicineDeveloping a computer model to better diagnose brain damage, concussionsStanford neuroimmunologist discusses recent advances in MS research and Study shows practicing tai chi may increase brain volume in healthy older adults
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