Imagine, being able to peak into someone’s mind and know what he is thinking. Is he afraid, anxious, or relaxed? Imagine, looking at an older person’s brain and being able to determine how good his memory abilities are. This may all be possible in the near future thanks to new technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Investigators from the Douglas Hospital Research Centre are at the forefront of this technology, using it to better understand the aging and emotional brain. They will be discussing the benefits of this imaging procedure and some of their research findings this Thursday evening, March 16, at the Douglas Hospital as part of Brain Awareness Week free public lecture series.

“This type of imaging has provided important insights into normal human processes involving thinking, such as the ability to memorize information, recognize faces, or how we experience fear and shame,” says Douglas researcher and co-lecturer Jorge Armony, PhD. “The next steps will be to use this technology to better understand psychiatric disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.”

“With fMRI, it is possible to link how changes in memory and reasoning abilities with age, or disease, may be directly related to changes brain function and structure,” says Douglas researcher and co-lecturer, Maria Natasha Rajah, PhD, “It will point the way towards developing new strategies for understanding and treating disease. For example, this technology may be an important tool for the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.”

fMRI is a procedure that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the quick, tiny metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a magnetic field to provide clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. fMRI records brain signals noninvasively.

For the last nine years, Montreal’s neuroscience community has hosted public lectures during Brain Awareness Week, an international initiative to teach the public about brain function and new research. The Thursday March 16 lecture entitled, Insight into the Mind: What Brain Imaging Reveals About How You Think and Feel, will be held at 7:30 PM, Douglas Hall, Douglas Hospital, 6875 LaSalle Blvd., Verdun. For information, contact (514) 761-6131, extension 2770.