Dr. An Vo (back row, left) oversees MR imaging for the Center of Neurosciences. Dr. Vo is pictured with her colleagues: (back row, L-R) Dr. Shichun Peng and Dr. Chris Tang, and (front row, L-R) Dr. Yilong Ma and the former research assistant Patricia J. Allen.

MRI research studies are conducted on a 1.5 Tesla GE Signa Echo Speed scanner housed in the the Department of Radiology of North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), approximately 200 feet from the PET facility. The system is equipped with a standard quadrature head coil and is echo planar capable with a maximum gradient strength of 2.4 Gauss/cm. Phantom studies, including a diffusion sequence, are performed on a weekly basis to insure the integrity of image quality.

A major focus of the MRI component of the Center is the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate neurologic and neuropsychiatric populations. Center investigators have used this specialized technique to map microstructural abnormalities in the white matter pathways of clinically unaffected carriers of the DYT1 dystonia mutation. Moreover, new studies are being conducted using perfusion imaging with arterial spin labeling (ASL) and resting state fMRI to measure disease-related pattern expression in Parkinson’s disease patients.

The Feinstein Institute has recently acquired a research dedicated 3T MRI system. The GE Signa HDx scanner (General Electric, Milwaukee, WI) was delivered in 2007. This unit offers dramatically improved image quality and image acquisition speed and enables scientists to assess changes in the function of critical brain areas involved in disease processes, and in mapping neural connections within brain circuits.

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