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Advances in Neuroimaging by Dr. Erin Bigler

NABIS 27th Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Brain Injury
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Erin D. Bigler Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Department of Psychology, 1001 Kimball Tower
Director, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research Facility
Brigham Young University
For more than a century neuroanatomical studies have shown at both the blunt dissection as well as the ultrastructure level how the brain is connected. However, until recent improvements in electrophysiological methods and neuroimaging, brain connectivity was difficult to study. Now a variety of magnetic resonance imaging methods including  structural imaging combined with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), resting state functional connectivity mapping (rs-fcMRI) and functional MRI associated with cognitive processes may be performed.  
Integrating these method now permit the investigation of neural networks in the living individual with age-typical development, disease or acquired pathology, such as traumatic brain injury. Understanding brain development from a systems neural connectivity and functional neural network perspective provides a much improved approach in using neuroimaging findings in the study of TBI. Much of the deformation that accompanies the biomechanical distortion of the brain that induces a TBI applies stretch/strain/shear forces that damages axons. Axon integrity is key to understanding network integrity and techniques, especially like DTI and rs-fcMRI provide excellent methods for the study of white matter integrity in TBI.
A major challenge, however, has to do with the heterogeneity of TBI as well as how different injury severities may influence white matter integrity in TBI at different time points post-injury.  This lecture will review the current applications of neuroimaging methods in the study of TBI outcome and provide a glimpse into future applications in the diagnostic, treatment and outcome predictions in TBI.
For more information on the 2014 Conference, click here.