NEWS RELEASE December 12, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Mind Research Network (MRN) can delve deeper into Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), thanks to a $65,000 grant from the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network that will expand MRN’s TBI ProgramTBI, which affects approximately 1.4 million people in the U.S. annually, occurs when a sudden traumatic blow causes damage to the brain. Disabilities resulting from a TBI can include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). TBI has become significantly more prevalent in U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, two-thirds suffer from brain injuries or mental health problems, a rate much higher than in prior conflicts. Mind Research Network Research Scientist Andrew Mayer, Ph.D., will collaborate with University of New Mexico Neurology, Psychology and Emergency Medicine departments in recruiting emergency room TBI patients to participate in a study focused on attentional functioning in mild to moderate TBI cases. Although it’s unlikely that neuroimaging techniques alone will provide an independent, objective diagnosis for mild TBI, such techniques could provide valuable incremental information that will help with what is often a difficult differential diagnosis, Mayer notes. “We’re hopeful that the results from this project will ultimately improve a clinician’s ability to use non-invasive neuroimaging techniques in the diagnosis of mild TBI and predict outcomes,” Mayer offers. “This is especially important, since symptoms of TBI are remarkably similar to those of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, which leaves the clinician without objective measures for differentiating between the two groups.” The second goal of the study is to follow patients longitudinally to determine how the normal recovery process occurs after a TBI, which currently is not well understood. The study will use functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques. fMRI is capable of measuring hemodynamic response to attention tasks in different regions of gray matter in the brain, and DTI is capable of measuring the integrity of the white brain matter that connects these regions. In addition, MRS provides a measure of different chemicals within the injured and non-injured brain. The combined information from all of these imaging modalities will hopefully provide important new information about neuronal injury and the recovery process. The Mind Research Network is a nucleus of preeminent neuroscientists from select U.S. institutions advancing today’s diagnoses and tomorrow’s treatments for mental illness, brain disease and brain injury. The MRN integrates state-of-the-art imaging, modern neurogenetic mapping and progressive informatics processes for an efficient bench-to-bedside application of research knowledge. For information on the Mind Research Network, please call 505/242-5028 or visitwww.mrn.org.
Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322