New brain imaging technology allows for observation of neuroconnectivity

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is effective tool for observing the working of brain structures. One of its shortcomings, however, has been that it does not allow for observation of physical connections between brain structures. A new development in MRI technology addresses this hole. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) allows for viewing of neuroconnectivity by tracking water diffusion along nerve fibres (i.e., white matter). DTI sets the stage for major advances in our understanding of the brain’s wiring, and also provides the medical community with a powerful diagnostic tool. “When a white matter tract is damaged by a neurodegenerative disease, its cellular membranes no longer restrict water flow, and diffusion becomes more random. DTI can detect such degeneration”.

Source: Amelia Thomas, Scientific American: Mind (January, 2008)

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(Image from Wikipedia)

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