Detecting neuronal activity with diffusion MRI

Photo of a brain on a black background.

Monitoring neural activation in vivo via noninvasive imaging methods has far reaching implications in many fields of study, including neuroanatomy, psychology, and neuroscience. Such technology can also be employed in clinical practice, e.g., for surgical planning and diagnosis and management of neurological and psychiatric disorders. The most widely used functional MRI (fMRI) method, blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) MRI, detects hemodynamic changes in the brain, which is an indirect indicator of neuronal activity.

The goal of our project is to overcome the technical barriers of a recently proposed fMRI technique that is based on transcytolemmal ions’ movement, which could be capable of more accurately and swiftly detecting neuronal activity. The project is a joint effort with scientists at Zhejiang University, and funded by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT).