Neuroscience has long been a vital area of research within MIR and its Neuroimaging Laboratory. The CCIR provides an important opportunity to increase and facilitate these collaborations. The diverse backgrounds and research interests have impacted advancements in the fields of aging; cerebrovascular disease; dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease; movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Tourette syndrome; and other major psychiatric illnesses.
One area of increasing growth has been the development of advanced MRI and functional MRI (fMRI) methods to obtain superior anatomical brain images and functional brain activation measurements, respectively. For instance, fMRI techniques are being employed to study areas of the brain that constitute a “default network”, which appear to be more active during passive-task conditions, such as monitoring the environment and internal thoughts, as compared to active-task conditions, like performing a memory task during a scan. The CCIR also has seen growth in the use of PET imaging to study the effects of physiological brain stimulation on blood flow and glucose metabolism, which has made an important contribution to Alzheimer’s disease research. These methods show correlations between areas of activation, the default network, and areas high in beta-amyloid plaque deposition (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease). Along side this research is the development/synthesis of new PET radioligands and new magnetic resonance molecular contrast agents as a means of determining new pathways for uniting molecular imaging with genomics and proteomics. Several studies focusing on new amyloid-targeting PET tracers are currently active in the CCIR.As the CCIR continues to support neuroscience efforts, we expect our collaborations to help foster revolutionary discoveries as imaging biomarkers of disease which will prove useful in the development of new therapeutics.