Neuroimaging

  • Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI)

Neuroimaging is unique in being able to provide direct in vivo measurements of the human brain which is of critical importance in understanding the structural and functional organisation of the brain.

Several research projects are undertaken:

  • Magnetic susceptibility imaging of iron in the brain
  • Diffusion imaging of white matter tracts
  • Ultrahigh resolution structural imaging of the cortex
  • Perfusion imaging for cerebrovascular imaging applications and others

Example of the MRI study: Application of imaging techniques in epilepsy studies

Many of the major advances in understanding the basis of the epilepsies have arisen from the ability to image the whole brain and detect underlying pathology, with ever increasing sophistication. We have a sustained record of high achievement and leadership in developing and applying advanced imaging techniques to the issues of epilepsy treatment and mechanisms over nearly 20 years. Our combination of high level imaging expertise, two 3T MRI systems fully dedicated to research, a focused disease problem, and major international collaborations places us in an ideal position to tackle our aims.

Local and International Epilepsy Cohorts: The methodology we are developing is allowing us to study new aspects of families with well-characterised genetic syndromes (in particular IGE), partial epilepsy, and malformations of cortical development such as ‘double cortex’ and periventricular nodular heterotopia (Figure below). Elucidating the mechanisms by which secondary generalised epilepsy and intellectual disability develop from focal abnormalities is based on another major cohort. We are also the major imaging analysis centre for the North American prospective, population based study of children with epilepsy(n=300).

Periventricular Nodular Heterotopia in epilepsy patients

One similar patient has been operated on, based largely on the EEG/fMRI identification of epileptiform nodules, and is seizure free.

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET is an imaging technique which uses small amounts of radioactivity to help in the diagnosis of disease. Pharmaceuticals are introduced into the body, either by injection or inhalation of a gas, and a PET scanner is used to produce an image showing the distribution of the pharmaceutical in the body.

Example of the PET study: The Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (AIBL)

The AIBL study is the largest study in the world involving Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans using Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB), a PET amyloid-imaging agent. The study aims to improve understanding of the causes and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and help develop preventative strategies.

Recruitment of the AIBL study commenced in 2007 and has been on a volunteer basis. A total of 1112 participants from Western Australia(40%) and Victoria(60%) have been enrolled in the AIBL study.

AIBL study: Neuroimaging of AD patient and control