Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of medical test that uses both magnetic fields and radio wave energy to produce images of organs and other structures inside the body. MRI scanners give better and clearer images than x-ray or ultrasound imaging currently does.
A revolutionary MRI scanner has arrived and is now fully functional at Cardiff University. The scanner itself is referred to as the ‘7T system’ – as the magnet is 7 Tesla (Tesla is a unit of magnetic strength), and is the strongest available. Costing roughly £6 million, it is one of only three scanners of this kind in the United Kingdom.
Supplied by Siemens Healthcare, the MRI machine is set to advance the field of Neuroscience by producing finely detailed images of the human brain. The MRI machine reveals the fibres located in the brain which carry out all human thought processes.
The scan shows the fibres in the white matter of the brain, called ‘axons’. The axons are the avenues in which electrical signals are sent across different areas of the brain, which are responsible for all human functioning. The MRI scanner reveals the electrical direction of the axonal wiring as well as the overall density of the axons.
Conventional brain scans and MRI machines can show areas of damage to the brain due to accident or neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. However, with such powerful magnets, we can see the axonal density which can help neuroscientists explain how brain damage and neurodegeneration impacts motor, memory capacity and cognitive ability.
The implication being, researchers can now look at the structure and function of the brain in tandem for the first time.
With such advances in neuroscience, we may soon be able to see a cure for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
Georgina, Consultant, Leyton UK