CogniFit's Science blog: New Brain Technology Helps Understanding How Brain Function

New Brain Technology Helps Understanding How Brain Function

A new way of using MRI scanners has been developed that will help doctors and scientists to understand how our brains function. The new technique is called Diffusion Tensor Imaging.

DTI tracks the motion of water molecules in the brain which allows us to see where nerve fibers led and give scientists the ability to map the fiber bundles that are wiring together in the cortex of the brain, called connectomes.

Until now, scientists have been using fMRI which doesn’t measure brain function directly. fMRI detects changes in blood oxygenation levels, from which we can only infer about neural activity, not actually see the connectomes as with DTI.

This new technology will allow scientists to watch the brain network develop as people grow and mature. It will allow doctors to monitor the neural network for changes that might be early signs of disease. It could be used to track the effectiveness of different therapies and medical interventions.

Using fMRI and DTI and connectomes together, scientists will have a new way to understand how the brain functions.

Until recently it was thought that a specific area of the brain controlled specific activities. There was one area that controlled speech; another that controlled vision or language.

In reality, perception is gathered, processed, transformed and distributed according to the needs of a very complex network of “providers” and “consumers” within the brain. The connectomes are the network by which the resources are distributed throughout the brain.

Scientists think that brain output depends on different requirements that change according to need and time. They think that our intelligence is determined by borrowing and re-organizing existing resources to deal with situations that are constantly changing.

By being able to trace the patterns of resource distribution in the brain in te coming years, we will continue to improve our understand of how our marvelous and mysterious brains function.