Brain Imaging Center
The Brain Imaging Center (BIC) at McLean Hospital opened its doors in the late 1980s with the installation of a 1.5 Tesla clinical magnetic resonance scanner. Today the BIC staff has grown to more than 50 persons, revenues awarded have grown to $3.25 million annually, and the BIC is entering a new era, having moved to a renovated and expanded Neuroimaging Center in 2001.
4.0 Tesla Spectrometer installation (click to enlarge)
Another view of the installation (click to enlarge)
The technological centerpieces of the BIC are the upgraded 1.5 Tesla scanner and a new $3.5 million Varian UnityInova 4.0 Tesla Whole Body Imaging Spectrometer, the only MR scanner of its kind in the world dedicated solely to psychiatric and substance abuse research. The new scanner is an invaluable research and diagnostic tool; 80,000 times more powerful than Earth's magnetic field, it can produce high-resolution images of the brain's chemical composition and activity. The ability to conduct safe, detailed scans of the brain in less than a second makes the scanner extremely valuable for repeated studies in patients, especially children and the elderly.
The speed, safety and precision of these devices has opened up a wide range of research opportunities that rely on the monitoring of changes in brain chemistry, minute to minute, to document the course of an illness or the effects of a medication. Both machines will be used to conduct research on substance abuse, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A third scanner, a Varian 600 MHz vertical bore spectrometer, will be used to scan test tubes and identify chemical components and structures of substance abuse.
For further information, call the Brain Imaging Center at (617) 855-3385 or (800) 333-0338.
Low Field Magnetic Stimulation Study (LFMS)
Researchers in the Brain Imaging Center have recently discovered significant mood effects made by weak, changing magnetic fields. This discovery was made in an MRI system during research studies on human volunteers, and has been recently published in the January 1st, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
- The Pain and Analgesia Imaging and Neuroscience (P.A.I.N.) Group, led by David Borsook, MD, PhD, is using fMRI to study complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in children.
- Collaborative research with colleagues in Dr. Martin Teicher's Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program have shown that the putamen, important to motor function and some aspects of attention, had diminished blood flow in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and hyperactivity. For these children, the use of Ritalin enhanced the blood flow to the putamen significantly.
Conversely, for children not objectively hyperactive (but previously diagnosed as having ADHD), Ritalin decreased blood flow in the putamen even further. This new technique may provide a way to objectively diagnose ADHD and guide treatment.