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Scientific result | Brain | MRI
A research team led by Denis Le Bihan (CEA) at the
NeuroSpin neuroimaging center has just demonstrated that water diffusion
slows down in activated regions of the brain.
This phenomenon is more closely correlated with the electrical activity of
neurons than with changes in blood flow, on which functional MRI is currently
based. In principle, this slower diffusion is reflected in dynamic changes in
the microscopic structure of the cerebral cortex, such as its cells swelling
This “neuromechanical” coupling between cell shape and function thus offers a
radically different method for functional brain imaging that could represent
brain function more accurately than the neurovascular coupling on which
functional MRI is based today. This new method should also give scientists
greater insight into the cell processes underlying neuronal activation and how
water is involved in them. These results have just been published in PNAS.
Water diffusion in brain cortex closely tracks underlying neuronal activity.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.