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Brain injury treatment may benefit from new 3-D scanning device

Researchers continue to advance their understanding of chronic degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. One recently developed technology promises to facilitate that process. Called the BigBrain, the device produces 3-D digital maps where only 2-D had been available, and at much higher resolution -- nearly 50 times the resolution of existing magnetic resonance imaging technology.

The device represents one product of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, a government funded project to map the brain at the neuron level. According to a recent press release, the Big Brain has produced the best model of the human brain to date.

Under current methods, diseases like Alzheimer’s can be hard to diagnose. Although patients with severe cases may have substantial accumulated amounts of a plaque called beta amyloid on their brain tissues, early stages of the disease may not have a corresponding visible atrophy. The new BigBrain technology may alleviate that problem.

Another challenge facing brain injury treatments is the coordination of various data, such as genetic, pharmacological or molecular neuroscience. By allowing researching to observe brain functioning at a level of resolution previously unattainable, assimilating various medical treatment modalities may not be attainable.

Although Alzheimer’s often attacks the older population, equivalent conditions like dementia disorders or Parkinson’s disease don’t similarly discriminate by age. Workers in the prime of their life may be affected by memory loss, language or cognitive impairment, or other symptoms without warning. Hopefully, new technology will result in better treatments. Until that happens, assistance sources like Social Security disability insurance benefits might sustain individuals no longer able to work.

Source:, “Scientists create BigBrain: 3D human brain model 50 times better than MRI that may help understand Alzheimer's, behavior,” Randell Suba, June 21, 2013

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