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Brain Mapping In Real Time

Magnetic-Resonance Imaging Linked With Supercomputing Produces a 3-D Picture of Brain Activity Within Minutes.

PITTSBURGH -- Scientists at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have teamed up to create a new capability for viewing the brain during mental activity. By linking an MRI scanner with the CRAY T3E supercomputing system, scan data from a subject's brain can be processed faster than the scanner scans, making it possible to see a realistic 3-D image of the brain while the subject is in the scanner. The researchers demonstrated this capability yesterday at Supercomputing '96, the annual supercomputing conference, held this year in Pittsburgh.

"With the T3E, we have enough computing power to stay ahead of the scanner," said PSC neural scientist Nigel Goddard. "The same processing that used to take more than a day on workstations we can now do in minutes."

"This is a big step forward," said Dr. Jonathan Cohen, codirector of the Laboratory for Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience, a joint venture of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. "The CRAY T3E eliminates the data bottleneck in this research. Ultimately, this on-line capability will make it possible to use brain-mapping as a clinical tool in diagnosis and treatment of brain pathology."

Using a technique known as functional MRI (fMRI), Cohen and his colleagues do "brain-mapping" experiments that produce high- resolution images showing what brain sites are active during different kinds of mental activity. fMRI generates a great deal of information quickly (half a gigabyte or more per experiment). In the past, computing couldn't keep up with the data, and it took 24 hours or more to produce a usable image.
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Contact: Michael Schneider
schneider@psc.edu
412-268-4960
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
21-Nov-1996


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