MRN Announces Mental Illness Breakthrough



February 17, 2009 ALBUQUERQUE, NM – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (Ret.) joined researchers from the Mind Research Network (MRN) in announcing how a single functional MRI (fMRI) scan can distinguish differences between patients suffering from schizophrenia and those suffering from bipolar disorder, with a high degree of accuracy. “Currently, there is no diagnostic test for either Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder, both of which historically have been diagnosed by symptoms over time – with overlapping symptoms,” relates Principal Investigator Vince Calhoun, MRN Director of Image Analysis and Magnetic Resonance, and University of New Mexico associate professor. “If we can detect the presence of – or a predisposition to – mental illness using a single fMRI scan, we can dramatically accelerate the diagnostic process, and refine individual patient treatments.” An NIH multi-grant project involving collaborative researchers from the Mind Research Network, Yale University and University of New Mexico, linked two very specific brain networks previously implicated in mental illness: one in the temporal lobe that processes auditory information; and the human brain’s Default Mode, which includes specific regions used when the brain is idle, but activity in those same regions decreases when performing rote tasks. Scanning the two networks using fMRI, while introducing specific stimuli, enabled researchers to differentiate between control subjects, subjects previously diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and subjects previously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with an accuracy rate of approximately 93 percent. Participants in the study included 26 healthy controls, 21 chronic schizophrenia outpatients and 14 bipolar Type I outpatients. Subjects were scanned using fMRI while being presented with two sessions of 244 auditory stimuli. They were instructed to respond as quickly and accurately as possible with their right index finger each time a “target tone” was introduced. Results show that healthy patients responded to target tones faster than schizophrenia or bipolar patients, while scans revealed that different, discreet brain regions exhibited different activity patterns within each group. “We weren’t surprised to find differences among subjects’ brain scans,” Calhoun continues. “However, we found differences specific enough that we can tell pretty accurately to which group a subject belonged.”“Brain imaging has tremendous potential in helping us to better understand, diagnose and treat mental illness,” asserts Mind Research Network CEO John Rasure. “We’re continually developing very complex algorithms and other neuroinformatics processes to better collect and use data generated by sophisticated multi-modal imaging technology.” Senator Domenici, a stalwart proponent of mental illness investigation and discovery, founded MRN 11 years ago to identify better ways to diagnose and treat mental illness and brain disorders. “This unique collaborative study, supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates the very essence of the Mind Research Network – effectively pursuing a single, complex research endeavor over several sites,” adds Domenici. “The implications are truly exciting and revolutionary.” The Mind Research Network is a nucleus of preeminent neuroscientists who are dedicated to the discovery and advancement of clinical solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and brain disorders. MRN integrates state-of-the-art imaging, modern genetics capabilities and progressive informatics processes in its translational research efforts. For information on the Mind Research Network, please call 505/272-5028 or Details of the method for the differential diagnosis research results of Dr. Calhoun and his team, as well as video from today’s news conference, will be available

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