Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More Accurate Interpretation Of Brain Imaging Data

Date:
August 30, 2009
Source:
Academy of Finland
Summary:
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique widely used in studying the human brain. However, it has long been unclear exactly how fMRI signals are generated at brain cell level. This information is crucially important to interpreting these imaging signals. Scientists in Finland have discovered that astrocytes, support cells in brain tissue, play a key role in the generation of fMRI signals.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique widely used in studying the human brain. However, it has long been unclear exactly how fMRI signals are generated at brain cell level. This information is crucially important to interpreting these imaging signals. Scientists from the Academy of Finland's Neuroscience Research Programme (NEURO) have discovered that astrocytes, support cells in brain tissue, play a key role in the generation of fMRI signals.

Functional magnetic imaging has become a highly popular method in basic neurobiological research, psychology, medicine as well as in areas of study that interface with the social sciences and economics, such as neuroeconomics. fMRI imaging does not directly measure the activity of nerve cells or neural networks, but local changes in cerebrovascular circulation during the execution of certain functions. Interpretation of the measurement data obtained with this method therefore requires a close knowledge of the cell-level mechanisms that are responsible for these local changes in cerebrovascular circulation.

Studies conducted by Canadian and Finnish scientists in the NEURO programme (http://www.aka.fi/neuro) have shown that astrocytes in brain tissue play a key role in generating the fMRI signal. Astrocytes are not nerve cells, but neuronal support or glial cells that are present in the brain in greater abundance than nerve cells. Their signals change with changes in nerve cell activity in a manner that depends on the brain's metabolic state, and the astrocyte signals thus created regulate the diameter of blood vessels in the brain thereby affecting local circulation.

Professor Kai Kaila, who is in charge of the Finnish contribution to the research programme, says the results shed valuable light on the basic mechanisms behind fMRI signals. They also make it clear that interpretation of the fMRI results is not as straightforward as is assumed.

"For example, it is generally believed that changes in fMRI signals associated with different brain diseases reflect changes in the function of nerve cells and neural networks, even though the explanation might lie in a pathological change in the characteristics and function of astrocytes. Likewise, the distinctive characteristics seen in fMRI signals measured from premature newborns is probably in large part based on the immaturity of astrocyte and blood vessel function," Kaila explains.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Academy of Finland. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Academy of Finland. "More Accurate Interpretation Of Brain Imaging Data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090828103926.htm>.
Academy of Finland. (2009, August 30). More Accurate Interpretation Of Brain Imaging Data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090828103926.htm
Academy of Finland. "More Accurate Interpretation Of Brain Imaging Data." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090828103926.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Newsy (Aug. 17, 2014) New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins