Monthly Archives: April 2013


MRIs Now Distinguish Between Renal Cancers

A new MRI technique, called “chemical shift,” can help identify the smallest presence of fat. The presence of fat helps differentiate between clear cell renal cell carcinoma and other types of renal cancer.

Renal cell carcinoma, or hypernephroma, originates in the proximal convoluted tubule lining. It is the most common kidney cancer (about 80% of cases), and also the most lethal of all genitourinary tumors (genital and urinary-related).

This cancer has the greatest potential to metastasize, which is what makes it so lethal. The five-year survival rate is 60-70% before metastases have spread.

Dr. Azadeh Elmi from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that MRI scans were 83% accurate in identifying clear cell renal cell carcinoma. This detection is a less-invasive way to properly identify and conquer cancer. The more a doctor knows about what he or she is dealing with, the more refined the treatments can be.

To read more about the study, you can read the article here.


We Can See That Pain in Your Brain!

Tor Wagner from the University of Colorado at Boulder took the lead on a study to try and see how the brain processes brain.

By using an fMRI scan and painfully hot temperatures, the old ways of measuring pain have been proven insufficient. Usually, pain is recorded on a self-report basis on a 1-10 scale. There’s no way to know if pain is being exaggerated or underplayed by the patient.

The scans showed specific patterns that were similar across all the patients, showing that the brain processes pain the same way in all of us. They were able to predict pain between 90 and 100% accuracy, even when they had no other “normal” scans of the patients to compare it to.

They hoped that these scans could also help break ground with emotional or social pain, but they found that those are processed differently. They found this out by measure as participants were shown a picture of someone who had previously caused them emotional distress and as they experienced relationships breakups. However, this study still proves as a good foundation for future studies.

So how do we know that this path in the brain is related to pain and not something like temperature? Some participants took pain killers prior to the study, and their scans showed signatures for lower levels of pain.

To read more on the study, you can find the article here. If you want to prove to your husband that you really do have a headache, call us at 719-404-0991.


The First Steps of MRI Mind Reading? Seeing Into Our Dreams.

A study in Japan, with Senior author Yukiyasu Kamitani of Japan’s ATR Computational Laboratories in Kyoto and colleagues from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, revealed that fMRI scans can actually portray the imaged that we see in our brains when we are sleeping.

The study followed two German scientists from 2011, Martin Dresler and Michael Czisch of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, who used lucid dreamers to help prove that the brain works similarly while asleep and awake. The use of lucid dreamers, or individuals who are aware of their dreams to the point that they can control them, helped conquer the barrier that spontaneous dream activity cannot be controlled in an experiment.

Want to understand lucid dreaming better? Check out this video from the Discovery Channel.

Kamitani took it a step further. Using the fMRI instead of the MRI, like using a video instead of a picture, measuring function instead of structure, the team could see how the awake brain compared to the asleep brain.

They found that when their three volunteers woke from a light sleep, taken inside the fMRI, the computers were 60% accurate, after 200 tests, in predicting what they would claim to be dreaming about.

While studying people in a deep sleep is more difficult because the participants are having trouble falling asleep for a number of ours inside the fMRI machine.

So, why bother with this study? What can it offer us other than a cool phenomenon to see into our dreams? Actually, knowledge of the brain and it processes images can help treat hallucinations in psychiatric patients.

For more information from the article, click here.