Combining Brain Images Into One

Neurology images to be reduced to a single image

(RxWiki News) With the creation of MRI imaging, doctors and researchers suddenly had a flood of information available, particularly when it came to neurology. The problem was that it was an overwhelming amount of data.

University of Colorado Boulder researchers have created a new software program that lets physicians and scientists combine hundreds of brain images into one. The process could dramatically trim the amount of time physicians spend pouring over images.

"New MRI benefits those with neurological conditions."

Tal Yarkoni, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Colorado Boulder's psychology and neuroscience department said the software can be programmed to comb scientific literature for published articles relevant to a particular topic, then extract all of the brain scan images from those articles.

Using a statistical process, investigators are then able to produce a consensus "brain activation image" reflecting hundreds of studies at once.

Yarkoni said that since the system is automated, it can analyze hundreds of experimental tasks or mental states nearly instantaneously. Previously researchers would spend weeks or months conducting the research.

Yarkoni said it is helpful to examine many different mental states simultaneously so that new questions can be asked,

As an example, researchers can pick a specific brain region and determine which mental states are most likely to produce activation in that region, or they could calculate how likely a person is to be performing a particular task given their pattern of brain activity.

In the study, investigators also were able to distinguish people who were experiencing physical pain during brain scanning from people who were performing a difficult memory task or viewing emotional pictures with nearly 80 percent accuracy. As the software improves that accuracy is expected to increase.

The research was published in journal Nature Methods.

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Review Date: 
June 28, 2011