Spectroscopic Imaging of the Human Brain

Magnetic Resonance Imaging detects the faint signals emitted by the nuclear magnetic moments of hydrogen (1H) atoms in the human body. MRI typically produces images of the hydrogen atoms in water (H2O); however, by exploiting the fact that different 1H atoms emit slighty different frequencies, one can acquire images of several different metabolites in-vivo, such as n-acetyl-aspartate, choline, creatine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamine/glutamate, among others. The continuous development of better and faster imaging methods, capable of covering large portions of the brain, is a core goal of the lab.

Figure. Left: A matrix of spectra acquired from a supraventricular slice; finely tuned lipid suppression techniques enable visualization of cortical tissue. Right: a metabolic image of n-acetyl-aspartate, a major marker of neuronal health, synthesized from the matrix on the left.