When doctors diagnose many brain-related disorders such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), they must rely on what their patients, or patient’s caregivers, report as the symptoms they are experiencing. This is a subjective measure that does not necessarily reflect what is happening in their brain at a biological level and, therefore, offers little in the way of understanding how their condition will progress over time or how to treat their condition.
Advanced neuroimaging approaches are both objective and now have the power to detect microscopic changes in brain structure caused by trauma or disease, meaning these tools could reliably diagnose the specific condition a patient has and help the doctor recommend a specific treatment approach. These advanced imaging approaches include diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional connectivity, perfusion weighted imaging and volumetric imaging. However, in order to say that an imaging finding is different from imaging in a person without these conditions, you need to know what that “normal” brain image, or reference data, looks like. Such a database, was not available for access by the research community.
The availability of a reference imaging data set from healthy individuals would offer more opportunities for precision diagnosis and personalized treatment.
CVB is building a Normative Neuroimaging Library (NNL) with imaging data collected from neurologically normal and healthy individuals. The NNL will be a reference database and serve as a key resource for the development of effective clinical imaging tools for diagnosing and managing patients with brain disorders.
Our partners are performing standardized advanced neuroimaging scans on 3,000 adult volunteers who have not been affected by brain trauma or disease.
In addition, the NNL will also collect demographic information and neurocognitive assessments from these volunteers so the library documents the variation in “normal” brain structure and function across the population.
All data collected and results from the NNL will be made available to the qualified research community via the BRAIN Commons. Clinicians, researchers, and scientists will be able to leverage the NNL to evaluate brain imaging of people with disorders/diseases in light of imaging scans of healthy individuals.
To advance the application of neuroimaging as a tool for diagnosis of brain diseases such as TBI, AD, and other brain disorders allowing physicians to accurately and efficiently diagnose conditions where subtle and early changes in brain structure can only be detected via advanced MRI imaging techniques.
- Baylor College of Medicine
- University of Utah
- University of Virginia
- American College of Radiology
- Lackland Air Force Base
- San Antonio Military Medical Center
“The TBI imaging reference library will provide key information necessary to capitalize on these increasingly available analytical approaches to allow for imaging to help support decisions in the management of patients with mild TBI.”
– James R. Stone, MD, PhD, scientific principal investigator for this program, and Vice Chair of Research, UVA Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging