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U of Minnesota researchers discover noninvasive diagnostic tool for brain diseases
Date:8/22/2007

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center have identified a noninvasive and painless way to diagnose complex brain diseases. And its as simple as staring at a point of light. The research offers promise for a less-stressful, painless, and objective diagnosis for brain diseases, as well as a way to measure the effectiveness of different treatments for these diseases. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record tiny magnetic fields in the brain, the researchers recorded brain cells communicating with each other while research subjects stared at a point of light.

After applying various mathematic algorithms, the researchers were able to classify the 142 research subjects by diagnosis. Study participants fell into one of six categories, including people with Alzheimers disease, chronic alcoholism, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis or Sjogrens syndrome, as well as healthy controls.

The research, led by Apostolos P. Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, neurology, and psychiatry, will be published in the Aug. 27, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering. This elegantly simple test allows us to glimpse into the brain as it is working, Georgopoulos said. We were able to classify, with 100 percent accuracy, the various disease groups represented in the group of research subjects. There are no good tests that measure the brain as it functions. Several tests exist to assess brain structure, but they reveal little of how the brain interacts. Currently, brain-related diseases are diagnosed with a combination of behavioral exams, psychiatric interviews, and neuropsychological testing, all which take time and can be hard on the patient, Georgopoulos said. This discovery gives scientists and physicians another tool to assess peoples disease progression, he said. In the future it could be applied when studying the effect of new treatments or drug therapie
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Contact: Sara E. Buss
buss@umn.edu
612-626-7037
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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