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Brain Imaging

The development of innovative imaging techniques is a key feature of the research program at IND. Imaging research at IND focuses on functional imaging technology using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT) imaging.  Using specific radioactively labeled molecules as tags or markers, in conjunction with PET or SPECT imaging offers the opportunity to view the neurochemical activity of the brain.  Functional imaging with PET and SPECT imaging allows us to understand activity in the brain and subtle changes that may occur in early Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

The primary goals of the PET and SPECT imaging studies at IND are:

  • Improving the accuracy of diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions (Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease and other neurologic conditions)
  • Enable an earlier diagnosis of neurologic conditions
  • Evaluate severity of disease and monitor disease progression
  • Evaluate the effect of potential disease modifying medications
  • Identify the neurochemical changes occurring with neurodegeneration leading to the development of targets for new, more effective medications

Imaging in Parkinson Disease
Over the past decade researchers at IND have developed and utilized dopamine transporter imaging in several studies to evaluate the diagnosis and monitor progression of Parkinson disease. In our studies, dopamine transporter imaging using [123I] ß-CIT SPECT discriminated between individuals with Parkinson disease and healthy subjects with a sensitivity of about 98%.

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Imaging in Alzheimer Disease
Functional imaging has recently emerged as a critical tool in understanding changes in the brain of individuals with memory loss and problems with thinking. Functional imaging using FDG PET has been available for several years and provides information about the metabolisms of the specific areas of the brain. FDG PET can be especially useful in differenting a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease from frontotemporal dementia.

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