WBEZ | MRI http://www.wbez.org/tags/mri Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A Peek At Brain Connections May Reveal Attention Deficits http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457142622" previewtitle="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/adhd_custom-c48f2fc521995d9fce44626b3bf579b5a9fc67cc-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>A look at the brain&#39;s wiring can often reveal whether a person has trouble staying focused, and even whether he or she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.</p></div></div></div><p>A team led by researchers at Yale University&nbsp;<a href="http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nn.4179">reports</a>&nbsp;that they were able to identify many children and adolescents with ADHD by studying data on the strength of certain connections in their brains.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s an intrinsic signature,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychology.yale.edu/people/monica-rosenberg">Monica Rosenberg</a>, a graduate student and lead author of the study in&nbsp;Nature Neuroscience.&nbsp;But the approach isn&#39;t ready for use as a diagnostic tool yet, she says.</p><p>The finding adds to the evidence that people with ADHD have a true brain disorder, not just a behavioral problem, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kennedykrieger.org/patient-care/faculty-staff/mark-mahone">Mark Mahone</a>, director of neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. &quot;There are measurable ways that their brains are different,&quot; he says.</p><p>The latest finding came from an effort to learn more about brain connections associated with attention.</p><p>Initially, the Yale team used&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC162295/">functional MRI</a>, a form of magnetic resonance imaging, to monitor the brains of 25 typical people while they did something really boring. Their task was to watch a screen that showed black-and-white images of cities or mountains and press a button only when they saw a city.</p><p>&quot;It gets really dull after a while,&quot; Rosenberg says, &quot;so it&#39;s really hard to pay attention to over a long period of time.&quot;</p><p>During the test, the team measured the strength of thousands of connections throughout the participants&#39; brains. And they were able to identify certain patterns that predicted a person&#39;s ability to stay focused.</p><p>What&#39;s more, these connection patterns were present even when the person wasn&#39;t trying to keep track of cities and mountains, or anything else, Rosenberg says. &quot;We could actually look at that signature while they were resting and we could still predict their attention,&quot; she says.</p><p>The team wanted to know whether this signature could be used to assess younger people, especially those with ADHD. So they reviewed data on 113 children and adolescents whose brains had been scanned by scientists in China as part of an unrelated study. The children had also been assessed for ADHD.</p><p>The team used the information about brain connections to predict how well each child would do on the attention task with cities and mountains.</p><p>&quot;And what we found was really surprising, and I think really cool,&quot; Rosenberg says. &quot;When we predicted that a child would do really well on the task, they had a low ADHD score. And when we predicted they would do really poorly on the task, they had a high ADHD score, indicating that they had a severe attention deficit.&quot;</p><p>For many of the children, the researchers were able to predict not only whether they had ADHD, but how severe the problem was.</p><p>The test isn&#39;t perfect but does provide useful information, Rosenberg says. Eventually, she says, it might help psychologists and psychiatrists assess children with attention problems.</p><p>One potential limitation of the approach is that attention deficits aren&#39;t found only in people with ADHD, says Mahone. Individuals with anxiety, depression, learning disabilities and autism also have trouble staying focused, he says.</p><p>Regardless of the diagnosis, though, Mahone says, &quot;knowing how the brain is different in a disorder, we can look at ways to help &#39;normalize&#39; the brain.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457139705/a-peek-at-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits?ft=nprml&amp;f=457139705" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/peek-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits-113921 Weak brain connections may link premature birth and later disorders http://www.wbez.org/news/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders-113437 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/premature-baby_custom-8bb72437be80899e67c2f6430df041b7851334fd-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res450032614" previewtitle="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/premature-baby_custom-8bb72437be80899e67c2f6430df041b7851334fd-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Researchers have used MRI scanners to learn that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>Babies born prematurely are much more likely than other children to develop autism, ADHD and emotional disorders. Now researchers think they may have an idea about how that could happen.</p></div></div></div><p>There&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/Premature-birth-appears-to-weaken-brain-connections.aspx">evidence</a>&nbsp;that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks, including those involved in focus, social interactions, and emotional processing, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.</p><p>A study comparing MRI scans of the brains of 58 full-term babies with those of 76 babies born at least 10 weeks early found that &quot;preterm infants indeed have abnormal structural brain connections,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://wuphysicians.wustl.edu/for-patients/find-a-physician/cynthia-e-rogers">Cynthia Rogers</a>, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.</p><p>&quot;We were really interested that the tracts that we know connect areas that are involved in attention and emotional networks were heavily affected,&quot; Rogers says. That would make it harder for these brain areas to work together to focus on a goal or read social cues or regulate emotions, she says.</p><p>The team used two different types of MRI to study the nerve fibers that carry signals from one part of the brain to another and measure how well different areas of the brain are communicating. Full-term infants were scanned shortly after they were born, while premature infants were scanned near their expected due date.</p><p>The researchers are continuing to monitor the brains of the children in their study to see which ones actually develop disorders.</p><p>Another team attending the neuroscience meeting presented evidence that at least some of the brain connection differences found in preemies at birth are also present during pregnancy.</p><p>The team used new MRI technology that allowed them to study the brains of 36 fetuses during the 30th week of pregnancy. Half the fetuses went on to be delivered prematurely and half went to full term.</p><p>When the researchers looked at connections between areas of the brain involved in movement and balance, the full-term fetuses had &quot;higher levels of connectivity than the preterm born,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://mpsi.wayne.edu/profile/moriah.thomason/">Moriah Thomason</a>, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. This could explain why premature babies often are late to sit up and stand, she says.</p><p>The results suggest that it&#39;s not necessarily premature birth itself causing brain connection problems, Thomason says. Both premature birth and weak brain connections, she says, may be triggered by factors like stress or illness or exposure to toxins.</p><p>The new research does a good job revealing a problem in premature brains, says&nbsp;<a href="https://psychiatry.ucsd.edu/About/faculty/Pages/jay-giedd.aspx">Jay Giedd</a>, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego who was not involved in either study. Now, he says, scientists and doctors will have to find a solution.</p><p>&quot;The trouble is we really don&#39;t know how to change the connections very well,&quot; he says. &quot;Can we do it with video games, exercise, meditation, yoga, diet?&quot;</p><p>Ultimately, Giedd says, it&#39;s likely that repair work on the faulty brain circuits associated with prematurity should begin well before a child is born. It may be possible to stimulate developing brain circuits&nbsp;in utero&nbsp;with sound or something more invasive.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/19/450012150/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders?ft=nprml&amp;f=450012150" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/weak-brain-connections-may-link-premature-birth-and-later-disorders-113437 Clever Apes: Decoding Science http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/clever-apes-decoding-science <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2010-October/2010-10-25/Clever Apes Gordon Kindlmann.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the latest installment of <a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/blog/clever-apes"><em>Clever Apes</em></a>, one couple struggles to bridge the divide between scientists and non-scientists.</p><p>&ldquo;I heard about your show and thought immediately of my husband, <a href="http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~glk/">Gordon Kindlmann</a>, who is a professor at University of Chicago. I would love it if you would consider interviewing him, mostly because I am hoping you&rsquo;ll be able to explain what he actually does so that I can understand it and explain it to others.&rdquo;</p> <p>This email is how the latest installment of <em><em>Clever Apes</em> </em>came about. Gabriel Spitzer&nbsp;took up Anne Dodge&rsquo;s challenge, and attempted to understand and get across Gordon&rsquo;s esoteric research &mdash; which turns out to be both practical, and maybe even inspiring.</p></p> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 17:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/clever-apes-decoding-science