Researchers at Duke Medicine in Durham, NC, have produced a three-dimensional map of the human brain stem in ultra high-resolution that could pave the way for better treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, according to a study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.
By using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, the high-resolution images could help surgeons better target electrodes for deep brain stimulation, the scientists said.
“These images are 1,000 times more detailed than a clinical MRI,” G. Allan Johnson, senior author of the paper and director of the Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy, said in a press release. “You can actually see the nerve fibers in the brain, how they’re crossing, and the subtleties of contrast between gray and white matter in the brain far beyond what a clinical scan could offer.”
Evan Calabrese, PhD, the lead author of the paper who engineered the 3-D model, added: “We now have a guide to be able to visualize these complex neuronal connections that would otherwise be impossible to see. This will help us continue to explore applications for treatments of Alzheimer’s disease, neuropathic pain, depression and even obsessive compulsive disorders.”