Neil Laboratory

Jeffrey J. Neil, MD, PhD

Our research group is focused on application of magnetic resonance methods to obtain a better understanding of brain injury. The methods used include magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy. We have been applying these methods to both animal models of brain injury and human subjects. Four representative projects are described below.

One recent innovation in imaging of brain injury has been the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for early detection of brain injury. Whereas conventional MR imaging methods do not show injury for hours to days after its occurrence, DTI shows injury within minutes. We are employing both animal models and tissue culture to investigate the basis for image contrast in DTI following injury.

We have been applying Bayesian probability theory to analysis of MR imaging and spectroscopy data.

We have been evaluating the use of sodium imaging for assessing brain injury. While sodium imaging presents technical challenges when compared with conventional MR imaging, the contrast available in sodium images of injured tissue is quite high. This is a result of increased tissue sodium content associated with the loss of ion homeostasis and increase in intracellular sodium levels in injured brain.

We have been applying DTI to newborn humans. The primary objective of this study is to determine which proportions of neonatal brain injury occur before birth, during birth, and after birth. The answer to this question has b implications for devising strategies to prevent or treat the brain injury which leads to cerebral palsy in children.