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By Larry Adams
By contrast, the 9.4-tesla magnet, which is three times more powerful than current state-of-the-art clinical MRI magnets and more than 100,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field, will enable UIC researchers to detect signals from sodium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen -- the metabolic building blocks of brain function and human thought.
"Brain scanning is pushed to the limit with the current technology -- we need the sensitivity of the 9.4-tesla magnet to go beyond anatomic imaging to metabolic imaging," says Thulborn. "Metabolism provides the energy that drives brain function and therefore offers the key to uncovering the mysteries of the mind."
Thulborn says the scanner will help identify and monitor many common conditions and diseases of the brain -- including stroke, Alzheimer's, autism and mental illness.
"The work we're doing mapping human thoughts brings so much promise to the future of medical research, specifically to our ability to really understand more about brain diseases," said Thulborn. "The medical and social implications of this technology include more personalized healthcare and earlier intervention to prevent disease."
In addition, Thulborn plans to apply the 9.4-tesla system to observing and potentially treating cognitive learning disorders, like attention deficit disorder.