NeuRA Magazine #24


In the Autumn issue, we are excited to talk about the world first breakthrough in spinal cord research, pioneered by NeuRA scientist Dr Sylvia Gustin; the discovery of spinal cord sensation provides so many people around the world with new hope. Also in the issue, we speak with Senior Principal Research Scientist Prof Karen Anstey on dementia and insights from her research on how to age well. We discuss with Prof Cyndi Shannon Weickert, the NSW Chair for Schizophrenia research, and her team, after their return from an international neuroscience conference held in Washington DC. And chat with Dr Lucette Cysique on how the first generation to grow old with HIV are ageing faster, “HIV is no longer a death sentence it is a chronic disease”. This is all in addition to highlighting our early Parkinson’s detection research and, our collaboration with Bowls NSW to launch the Bowling for Better Balance annuals event. The magazine finishes with a welcome interview with A/Prof Tony Roscioli, a recent addition to NeuRA and a group leader on Neuro-genomics.

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Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

This project aims to deliver the most comprehensive, detailed and stereotaxically accurate MRI atlas of the canonical human brain. In human neuroscience, researchers and clinicians almost always investigate images obtained from living individuals. Yet, there is no satisfactory MRI atlas of the human brain in vivo or post-mortem. There are some population-based atlases, which valiantly solve a number of problems, but they fail to address major needs. Most problematically, they segment only a small number of brain structures, typically about 50, and they are of limited value for the interpretation of a single subject/patient. In contrast to population-based approaches, the present project will investigate normal, living subjects in detail. We aim to define approximately 800 structures, as in the histological atlas of Mai, Majtanik and Paxinos (2016), and, thus, provide a “gold standard” for science and clinical practice. We will do this by obtaining high-resolution MRI at 3T and 7T of twelve subjects through a collaboration with Markus Barth from the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland (UQ). The limited number of subjects will allow us to image each for longer periods, obtaining higher resolution and contrast, and to invest the required time to produce unprecedented detail in segmentation. We will produce an electronic atlas for interpreting MR images, both as a tablet application and as an online web service. The tablet application will provide a convenient and powerful exegesis of brain anatomy for researchers and clinicians. The open access web service will additionally provide images, segmentation and anatomical templates to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, BrainVoyager). This will be hosted in collaboration with UQ, supporting and complementing their population-based atlas.