Udall Center

  • Whole Brain Scans of Diseases with Parkinsonian Symptoms

    n.b. If you’re viewing this on a smartphone, please use fullscreen mode.

    The eight movies that make up the video montage above show specific disease-related metabolic networks derived from whole-brain scans of cerebral glucose metabolism in patients with one or another of four diseases exhibiting Parkinson’s-like clinical symptoms: Parkinson’s disease (PD) itself, multiple system atrophy (MSA), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBGD). Because their symptoms are so similar, they are often misdiagnosed. Investigators at the Center for Neurosciences have shown that brain networks such as the ones above can be much more reliable diagnostic tools.

    Each of the eight movies is made up of roughly 180 still images of the brain that show thin slices rapidly displayed in sequence.

    For the movies in the “x-direction,” the slices are taken “vertically, from ear to ear”—that is, they are planes at right angles to an imaginary line passing through the brain of the patient from one ear to the other. Similarly, for the movies in the “z-direction,” the slices are taken “horizontally,” beginning at the base of the skull and proceeding upward through the top of the patient’s head.

    The colored patches in the movies show regions in the disease-related brain networks where glucose metabolism is significantly below (blue) or above (red) the corresponding levels measured in the same parts of the brains of people without disease. These patterns of deficit and surplus signal disease-specific networks of changes across the entire brain, when compared with brain scans of healthy people.

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to one of 14 National Institutes of Health Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research. The Udall Center program was developed in honor of former U.S. Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona, who fought a long battle with the disease. The Udall Centers use a multidisciplinary research approach to shed light on the fundamental causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD) as well as to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with PD and related disorders.

You can access the Web site of the Udall centers here.

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The Udall Center at the Center for Neurosciences (CFN) takes a unique, patient-oriented approach to the basic problems confronted by clinicians, caretakers and patients in diagnosing and managing Parkinson’s disease (PD). With full access to the state-of-the-art imaging, computational, laboratory and logistical resources of its host institutions, the Center focuses on exploring how validated, functional brain networks derived from computational analyses of PET and MRI scans can lead to novel approaches to treating and, perhaps, preventing the disease.

Researchers at the Udall Center as well as patient-volunteers for medical research studies conducted by the Center can also call on the full resources of clinical medicine available through the North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System.

There is a brief description of the Udall Center at The Feinstein on the Web site of the Udall centers here.

Click here to watch a video of a 39-minute introductory talk on Parkinson’s disease by Dr. Martin Niethammner, MD, of the Center for Neurosciences. Dr. Niethammer’s presented his talk at the Centricity Series Biomedical Research Symposium on Parkinson’s Disease, held January 25, 2012.