Autism disorders affect one in 110 children in the U.S.--or perhaps more--but the method of diagnosing the condition, which is characterized by difficulties socializing and communicating, among other behavioral and emotional problems, is largely subjective. Now, researchers may have finally found a way to objectively and scientifically diagnose the condition early, with 94 percent accuracy, using simple MRI brain scans.
Using an MRI system operating at six times the magnetic field of a conventional clinical scanner, researchers at the Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy have gathered the most detailed magnetic resonance images ever captured of a mammalian brain.
If you are what you eat, then it makes sense to know what your food actually is. Taking this notion to a perhaps extravagant but nonetheless entertaining degree, someone out there decided to run a bunch of common fruits and vegetables through an MRI machine. The resulting videos and images let you see the Earth’s bounty in a whole new way (literally).
The problem of people who take more than their fair share of public services is as old as public services themselves. On a small scale, the problem merely blends into all the other inefficiencies in the system. But if freeloading becomes too pervasive, it can imperil the entire society. This may seem like an abstract economics or social sciences problem, but the tendency of people to request social services without demanding that they pay a fair amount for those services led directly to California bankrupting itself.
Addicts form thoughts in a fundamentally different way than those without addictions, according to a report published in today's Journal of Neuroscience. The study, led by scientists at the University of North Carolina and the University of California, compared the brain activity of recovering alcoholics and non-addicts. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they recorded neural activity of both groups while they made a hypothetical financial decision: Less money now or more later? The impulsive "now" option, one demarcated by increased activity in certain brain sites, was chosen by the recovering addicts three times more often than by others. The ones who decided to hold off, however, had more activity in their orbital frontal cortices—the "brakes" area of the brain, which allows us to consider future consequences and weigh them against short-term gain.
The study, the first to identify such differentiation in brain activity, could be the key to discovering viable treatments for addiction.—Abby Seiff
Forensic scientists in Switzerland are pioneering a whole new way to do autopsies. No scalpel required.
By Jessica Snyder SachsPosted 10.16.2004 at 3:00 pm 0 Comments
A light shines under the closed door of a radiology suite, down a darkened hallway deep inside the University Medical Center in Bern, Switzerland. Outside the building, under the glow of a fluorescent street lamp, an empty hearse waits in the loading dock. Tonight the local undertaker is earning some extra money making a special delivery. Entering the radiology room through a back door, he gently deposits a body—double-wrapped inside a blue bag—on the sliding bed of a full-body scanner.
At the “brain spa” of the future, transcranial magnetic stimulation and memory-enhancing drugs will clear your mind of forgetfulness and flabby thinking.
By David PescovitzPosted 05.08.2004 at 5:00 pm 0 Comments
A visit to the spa, circa 2015: Your session begins with a battery of mental tests—from visual puzzles to memory quizzes to games that measure reaction time. After your results are evaluated, you don a lightweight helmet housing electromagnetic coils and relax while a certified “neurotrainer” consults a 3-D image of your brain to adjust the helmet settings. You feel oddly energized as the device zaps your gray matter with painless energy pulses. After a few minutes, you visit the smart bar for a custom regimen of brain-enhancing pills.
Researchers seeking more reliable lie detection methods are experimenting with brain scan technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). First they must create a scenario in which study subjects will lie predictably. Then they observe blood flow within subjects' brains as they alternately fib and tell the truth. The result: Scientists are starting to identify the specific areas in the brain where lies are formed.