Brain imaging provides a non-invasive window into the workings of the human central nervous system. Oxford has particular strengths in this area including a new ‘state of the art’ high field 7 Tesla MRI scanner.
Brain imaging provides a non-invasive window into the workings of the human central nervous system. Oxford has particular strengths in this area, including a new ‘state of the art’ high field 7 Tesla MRI scanner. This is one of only two such scanners in the UK.
Researchers are working on improving imaging technologies, data analysis and the application of imaging to investigate some of the most debilitating neurological disorders. Imaging offers enormous potential to identify biological markers of the earliest stages of disease, the time at which treatment is likely to be most effective, and to support the development of new therapies.
Our imaging research uses three complementary technologies; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG). These are often coupled with brain stimulation techniques including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Brain imaging research is mainly conducted in the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB) led by Professor Irene Tracey, and the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) led by Professor Kia Nobre. However, imaging is also integrated across our other neuroscience research themes. Researchers in FMRIB and OHBA also work closely with scientists in the Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC), a purpose-designed Clinical Research Centre embedded in an NHS environment at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
Research within the FMRIB Physics group is focused on fundamental research to develop new imaging technologies. The interpretation of imaging results requires extensive data analysis which is the subject of research in the Analysis group. The team have developed the widely used, and freely available, FMRIB Software Library (FSL), and are a major partner in the Human Connectome Project and the UK Biobank Imaging Extension. The analysis of MEG and EEG data is the focus of research by the OHBA Analysis group.
Imaging can be used to investigate many aspects of brain physiology including blood oxygenation and brain metabolism. Other researchers use complementary imaging technologies to investigate how different brain regions are integrated and work together in health and disease.
All this research is ultimately directed towards delivering practical benefits for patients, carers and society in general. We have particular expertise in the use of imaging to study neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia), recovery from stroke and chronic pain.
Take a tour of the brain with FMRIB scientists and Ruby Wax.