Next Gen MRI Brain Scanner

Berkeley News

Berkeley Optometry’s Dr. Michael Silver and Vision Science Faculty Member Dr. Jack Gallant are among a group of UC Berkeley researchers who are collaborating to build next-gen MRI brain scanner.

Article By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media relations

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, has transformed our view of the brain, allowing researchers to pinpoint areas associated with everything from depression and dementia to playing chess and engaging in sex.

Its key limitation, however, is resolution: Even the most powerful scanners, using strong 7 to 10 Tesla magnets (7T to 10T), can often only localize activity within a region measuring several millimeters on a side – the size of a grain of rice – that comprises some 100,000 individual neurons doing a variety of different things.

To zoom in on smaller groups of neurons, UC Berkeley researchers have reimagined fMRI techniques and instruments to boost the resolution by a factor of 20. They will use a new $13.43 million BRAIN Initiative grant from the National Institutes of Health to build the NexGen 7T by 2019 to provide the highest resolution images of the brain ever obtained, able to focus on a region the size of a poppy seed.

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