Entries in Brain Scan (4)


Novel Brain Scan Can Detect Concussions

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A novel imaging technique may cut the lengthy process -- a physical exam and a battery of tests -- to determine whether a patient is suffering from a concussion down to a single scan, a new study suggests.

This technology, known as diffuse tensor imaging (DFI), may help detect concussions after a traumatic brain injury, since approaches like computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) fail to demonstrate evidence of brain abnormalities.

The study, published Friday in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, is particularly relevant at a time when more than 2,000 former NFL players have filed a lawsuit asserting that the league has deliberately withheld from its players the link between concussions and its long-term impacts on the brain.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York compared 34 patients who sustained concussions with 30 healthy controls, looking for abnormalities across the entire brain of individual patients.  What they found was striking: The diffuse tensor imaging demonstrated unique abnormalities in each individual who had a concussion -- abnormalities that would also be present in the more than one million Americans who sustain a concussion each year.

"The way patients manifest certain symptoms is extremely variable," said Dr. Michael Lipton, the study's lead author.  "There are lots of differences in symptoms and deficits from concussions that patients have, such as cognitive impairment, anxiety, and headache."

Using the novel approach to imaging, physicians could confirm the unique, telltale signs of a concussion right away.

While the data showing that diffuse tensor imaging can distinguish unique brain abnormalities has been previously reported, the researchers took their study one step further and found that a new way of looking at the information from these scans -- an approach known as functional anisotropy, or FA for short -- can reveal whether the brain may have swelling.

Intriguingly, in a separate group of patients included in the study, people with concussions still had evidence of brain injury over one year after their head injury.

"The unique thing about this study is that there are brain abnormalities [still present] at multiple time points," said Dr. Jeff Bazarian, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.  "This highlights that the brain is abnormal on a cellular level for a long time."

Concussions occur mainly from motor vehicle accidents and falls, but can also appear after non-traumatic injuries such as whiplash.  More than 300,000 adults and children are affected by sports-related concussions each year.

Although most people who have a concussion have no lasting effects, as many as 30 percent of people suffer from permanent brain damage, resulting in personality changes and memory impairment.  In extreme circumstances, concussions, and their long-term repercussions, have been implicated in contributing to the suicides of prominent former NFL players like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

The problem is that no effective treatments, other than supportive therapy such as cognitive rehabilitation, currently exist for concussions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Binge Drinking Teen Girls, Not Boys, Have Bad Spatial Memory

Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Binge drinking is known to have a negative impact on a teen's working memory -- the kind that allows you to use a map, do math calculations, or perform complex sports plays.

But how does binge drinking's effects differ when compared amongst girls and boys?

Researchers at San Diego State University sought to answer this very question by examining how teenagers' brains reacted to various tests.  They gave attention and memory tests to 40 self-reported binge drinkers and 55 non-drinkers, all between the ages of 16 and 19, while they were in a brain scanner.

The authors of the study, published Friday in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that binge drinking girls had less activation of certain areas of the brain and performed worse on attention and memory tasks compared with non-drinking girls.

On the other hand, binge-drinking boys actually had more brain activation and did better on the task involving spatial memory than non-drinking boys.

The authors conclude that "women may be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence, while men may be more resilient to the deleterious effects of binge drinking."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Brain Scan Reveals Abnormal Brain Sync in Autistic Toddlers

BananaStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Brain scans are continuing to unmask new abnormalities in the brains of young children with autism.

In a study published Monday in Neuron, researchers at the University of California in San Diego spotted another difference when they compared the connectivity in brain areas involved with language processing between young children with autism, those with language delay problems, and those developing normally.

They found that children with autism have disrupted synchronization between the left and right side of the brains, something not seen in the other two groups. Furthermore, the lower the degree of synchronization, the greater the severity of autism.

The authors of the study are hopeful that utilizing this type of brain scan "could be used to diagnose autism at a very young age -- around one year."  However, they still don't know if this brain scan would actually be useful for predicting autism in such young children, since the study involved 2 1/2-year-old toddlers who had already been diagnosed with autism.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calling Your Bluff: Brain Scans Reveal the Truth

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PASADENA, California) -- It may be difficult to tell if someone is lying from the outside, but a new study is the latest to find that a brain scan may be the ticket to calling someone's bluff.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and California Institute of Technology used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to scan the brain activity of 76 study participants while they played a bargaining game.  In the game, a buyer and seller bargained with each other for the best price.  Only the buyer knew the real price of the item.

The study's authors found the buyers who bluffed showed more activity in the brain regions that contribute to complex decision-making, maintaining goals, and understanding other people's beliefs.

"Although it's controversial, my interpretation is that humans have a natural instinct toward honesty," said Dr. Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby professor of Behavioral Economics at California Institute of Technology, and the co-author of the study.  "To be actively dishonest requires extra thinking, so the brain would be working harder."

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that this brain activity may help differentiate between honest individuals and those who attempt to manipulate their social image in another person's mind.  In the future, the authors said these scans could help diagnose mental disorders or contribute to finding the truth in the courtroom.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio