Welcome To The Fascinating World Of Neuro Imaging
Hopefully this website will give you a beginners guide on the subject, whether you are looking at the history of neuro imaging, researching or browsing out of interest. I put this information together as part of my background research for my biology college course and thought if I collated it all here, it’ll save people in the future looking for the same info! Being able to take a neurological image is a relatively new procedure within the medical field and is basically a technique where an image of the structure of the brain is taken or where an image is used to capture pictures of the brain functions. These images are taken and then a neuroradiologist analyzes them to enable him to make a diagnosis. There are two general categories that neuro imaging falls into and they are (a) for large scale problems like head injuries and (b) the finer imaging as is used for brain mapping or the diagnoses of metabolic diseases like Alzheimer's. Neuro imaging is usually done once a neurological exam has been conducted on a patient but a deeper look into the causes of the patients' problem is needed.
Past forms of neuroimaging
In previous years, the process of determining neurological disease or ailments was invasive, stressful for the patient and done by means of brain surgery where reactions to various stimuli were tested. Neurological examinations nowadays are no longer invasive due to the technological advancements in neuroimaging. The procedures are done while the patient is awake, they are non-stressful, and also eliminate the risks that come with having brain surgery.
Current methods of neuroimaging
The methods used today are CT (computed tomography), EEG (electroencephalography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), PET (positron emission tomography) and FMRI (functional MRI) scans. CT scans are basically computer x-rays that give a distinct image of the brain anatomy. The down side to this type of scan is that anatomical problems show up but problems with brain functions do not. EEGs determine the physiology of the brain as well as the electrical currents generated by the neurons. Thus, functionality is also examined. PETs were the first 3D computer images created giving a concentrated image of brain function by means of metabolic levels. These levels come from positrons that are emitted from ingested radioactive sugars. The most popular form of neuroimaging used today is that of MRIs. The disadvantage of an MRI is that it is only able to give an anatomical image and not a physiological image of the brain. The advantages are that it is safer and it uses magnetic frequency to create the images. A further development of the MRI is the FMRI which is able to give a 3D virtual image, displaying oxygen and blood flow while a process of thought is being performed.
The world of neuroimaging is developing rapidly with technology and the amount of information and functionality that can be gained from this form of x-ray of the brain is huge. Diagnosis of tumors, lesions, epilepsy and sleep disorders as well as neurological diseases has been made far easier by means of these images.