This Brain Map Technique Has Potential in Predicting Certain Diseases

This Brain Map Technique Is Potential in Predicting Certain Diseases
PHOTOGRAPH: Brain Spine Foundation | A neuroscience nurse examines brain scans.

Countless studies have been done about the brain and how it can be rewired. Recently, researchers analyzed the brain map of close to 700 individuals, measuring the stretch of connections to create their “brain fingerprints.”

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University used a non-invasive mapping method called diffusion MRI that provided a much more detailed picture of the connections in the brain. They then measured and mapped out the point-by-point connections between the white matter pathways, or connectomes to “fingerprint” the brain.

They confirmed that structural connections in the brain are unique to people. The connections mapped reflected both nature and nurture. An individual’s experiences – whether a person will be struggling with a disease throughout his lifetime, for instance – had an impact on the brain fingerprint.

The brain mapping technique uncovered how experiences can shape the brain, shedding greater light on brain plasticity. One of the authors of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at the university, Dr. Timothy Verstynen, said, “In a way, we are showing what neuroscience has always assumed to be true but not yet shown: We are our own unique neural snowflake.”

By studying anew the brain’s wiring and gleaning useful insights, neuroscientists inched closer to being able to predict and curb some neurological or psychiatric diseases. Together with scientific advances in genome reading, scientists may help people effectively overcome or fight diseases years before they manifest.

Pedaling & Other Exercises to Restore Brain Connections

In other news, it is interesting to note that certain activities can help restore brain connections, specifically in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Among these assisted exercises is biking. Studies have shown that pedaling on stationary bikes can lead to greater connectivity in brain regions responsible for movement in Parkinson’s patients.

Specialists have recommended specific exercises to help control Parkinson’s symptoms and even change the way the sufferer’s brain works. With exercise, several of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be alleviated.

There are actually exercise programs specifically designed for individuals with Parkinson’s. While some may prefer an activity like tai-ichi or zumba, others are comfortable with biking. In some online discussions, some individuals have expressed that cycling is their preferred activity because it is less harmful on the joints.

An exercise can prevent the negative effects of inactivity, and keep people from sitting for long periods of time or from getting less fit.  There is a community of resources online for tips on beginning an exercise program or adjusting regular exercise that Parkinson’s Disease sufferers can refer to.


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