Brain Imaging Infrastructure

Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (sMRI) is used to study cortical morphometry (grey matter density, cortical thickness) and white matter tract connectivity (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI). Functional MRI (fMRI) is used to characterize brain responses to experimental perturbations and brain activity in the resting state (rsMRI). The effect of pharmacological interventions on brain activity is studied using pharmacological MRI (pharmMRI). Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is used to study neurotransmitter systems.. Studies are conducted at the world renowned Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center (Director: John Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D.) and at the recently established Staglin IMHRO Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

PET: The NIC has access to a Siemens ECAT Exact HR+ dedicated PET scanner. This scanner consists of 32 rings of 576 bismuth germinate (BGO) detectors arranged in an eight by eight crystal block array which is coupled to four photomultiplier tubes. The ECAT HR+ has a very high resolution (<5mm resolution) and has full 3-D capability. A cyclotron is available on site for O-15 studies. Other radiotracers/ligands are available through collaboration with the UCLA Laboratory of Molecular Neuroimaging.

MRI: The NIC has access to 3 MRI scanners: 1) A 3 Tesla Siemens Allegra scanner with four receivers for phased array imaging, local head gradients with slew rates of more than 220 T/s and a unique wide bore access, 2) A 3 Tesla Siemens Trio scanner with 32 channels capable of parallel imaging, 3) A 1.5 Tesla Siemens Sonata unit. This device, also fitted for phased array imaging, is primarily utilized for structural imaging.

In close collaboration with the UCLA Laboratory for Neuroimaging (LONI), the NIC has established a data repository for structural and resting state imaging data, which stores brain imaging data acquired at multiple national and international sites. LONI has extensive experience in the collection, storage and analysis of large multi-site MRI data sets and is a world leader in structural image analysis and implementation of multi-site projects with over 60 sites worldwide.

In close collaboration with Laboratory of Vertebrate Functional Brain Mapping at USC, the NIBC studies homologous brain circuits in awake, freely moving rodents.