New $1.8 Million Brain Scanning Technology Arrives on Campus

Posted: May 10, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

George Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study is now the proud owner of a state-of-the-art brain scanning machine, installed Monday by way of a construction crane and a team of technicians and scientists. This purchase will significantly upgrade the university’s research capabilities by providing high-quality imaging.

The technology, a Siemens Magnetom Allegra 3 Tesla scanner, uses a process called functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which is non-invasive and allows scientists to visually identify structural and functional characteristics of the human brain.

Mason researchers are eager to begin using the new equipment, which was funded by the Krasnow Institute but will be shared with other academic departments as well as investigators within and outside the university who presently conduct research using MRI technology.

Brain scanner installers
Installers unpack and assemble the Krasnow Institute’s new fMRI machine, which arrived Monday.
Photo by Nicolas Tan

Research faculty will now be able to see and measure how the brain functions when it is performing a variety of tasks, such as answering a question or making a decision – providing valuable information for understanding the causes of and finding new treatments and interventions for many neurologic diseases, including strokes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Another planned study will use the new brain scanner to examine developmental learning and behavior. This research will investigate the relationship between talent and disability as well as reasoning and attention. The work will encompass the study of the brain in development – how children with attention deficits process reasoning – to the human brain in regression, particularly how Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

George Mason’s Law and Neuroeconomics Center will also make good use of the machine. The scanner will be used to study how the brain interacts with its external environment to produce economic behavior, allowing researchers to better understand economic decision making – and consequently, predict economic behavior.

In addition, the brain scanner will be used by faculty members in the School of Computational Sciences and the Department of Psychology.

The science governance board of the new MRI facility is the Neuroimaging Core of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study (NICKI). NICKI’s purpose is to support existing research projects based on the use of MRI technology.

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