Dec. 17, 2008 | The human brain is the command center of the human body, controlling virtually all aspects of movement and function. It operates at lightning speed, but when a problem occurs, the results can be disastrous.
Being able to determine the exact cause and location of such a problem within the brain often requires major surgery. A new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will allow clinicians and researchers to learn more about the inner workings of the brain, and even witness the human thought process in action, without making a single incision.
The new 3 Tesla system, installed recently in UAMS’ Psychiatric Research Institute, is twice as powerful as standard MRI machines and weighs roughly 10,000 pounds. It was placed in its new home with the aid of a megaforklift.
A tesla is a measure of magnetic field strength. The new 3T system, to be used for both clinical procedures and research studies, is equivalent to 30,000 times the earth’s magnetic field. The 3T system, one of only two in Arkansas (a similar unit is being used by the UAMS Department of Radiology) is capable of capturing detailed images of blood flow and brain activity.
It also processes those images faster than standard MRI systems, providing medical personnel with improved diagnostic capabilities.
“This instrument will significantly advance our research into addiction and other challenging behaviors,” said Warren Bickel, Ph.D., director of the Psychiatric Research Center’s Center for Addiction Research. “It will permit us to see how the brain of the addicted operates differently from the rest of us.”