Brain Imaging Study Surprises Scientists

Alzheimers disease and traumatic brain injury diagnosis and treatment could benefit

Getting the right diagnosis and treatment for disorders of the brain's connectivity and signaling can be a challenge. However, surprising results from a new imaging study may offer hope.

A recent study by Van J. Wedeen of the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues reported surprising results from imaging brain fibers.

The data shows the brain fibers are aligned into an unexpectedly simple grid-like structure, rather similar to intersecting streets. 

"Ask your doctor about new  Alzheimer's treatments."

This map of the brain's connectivity grid may help neurologists and other doctors analyze what goes awry in the brains of dementia patients. Conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury involve disorders of the brain's amazingly intricate connections and signaling system.

This may aid the development of therapies for dementia and other conditions. If the 100 billion cells in the brain have compromised connectivity, abnormal signaling, disorders of speech, perception, memory, thinking, and behavior can result. Patients dealing with such compromised brain connectivity may exhibit signs and symptoms of dementia.

There is a search underway for new drugs that slow such degeneration of brain cell communication and connectivity. The new map of the brain's grid-like connections could help scientists develop drugs and other therapies targeting the degeneration.

Using the new imaging technology, scientists are peering ever-closer into the architecture of the brain's connections. Understanding the differences between healthy and disordered brain connections may enable breakthroughs in diagnosing and developing enhanced therapies for Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, and other related disorders.

Review Date: 
April 12, 2012