Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 00:08 IST

World's Most Powerful Scanner Reveals First Image of Human Brain

The world's most powerful MRI scanner captured the first images of the human brain.

Reported by: Digital Desk
World's Most Powerful Scanner Reveals First Image of Human Brain | Image:Representational image/Pexels
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Saclay: Marking a significant milestone, the world's most powerful MRI scanner captured the first images of the human brain. Researchers, in 2021, at the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in France had initially used the machine to scan a pumpkin. However, health authorities later permitted them to scan humans. The step promises to highlight the intricacies of our human brain and the illnesses that plague it.

Situated in Plateau de Saclay, south of Paris, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, in a first, has welcomed approximately 20 healthy volunteers. 

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A physicist working on the project named Alexandre Vignaud said the CEA had witnessed a level of precision that was not reached earlier. The magnetic field created by the most powerful scanner is as enormous as 11.7 teslas, a unit of measurement named after inventor Nikola Tesla.

With a capacity 10 times more precise than standard hospital MRIs, which typically operate at up to three teslas, this machine boasts unprecedented scanning power. Dubbed 'Iseult,' the scanner's capabilities were showcased as researcher Vignaud compared images taken by Iseult with those from a conventional MRI on a computer screen.

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Vignaud said thanks to the machine, the minute vessels nourishing the cerebral cortex or details of the cerebellum that were previously almost invisible can now be seen. 

France's Research Minister and physicist Sylvie Retailleau said the precision was almost 'beyond belief' adding that the groundbreaking achievement will pave the way for improved detection and treatment of brain pathologies. 

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The researchers are hopeful that the scanner's capabilities could shed light on the elusive mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, as well as psychological conditions like depression or schizophrenia. CEA researcher Anne-Isabelle Etienvre said, "For example, we know that a particular area of the brain - the hippocampus - is implicated in Alzheimer's disease, so we hope to be able to find out how the cells work in this part of the cerebral cortex."

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Published April 2nd, 2024 at 23:39 IST