The Centro Studi e Ricerche “Enrico Fermi” in Roma (Italy) has been since many years involved on a very challenging project about the feasibility of the direct detection of neuronal currents using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) at Larmor fields of the order of the earth magnetic field (~50 microT). This technique, named Direct Neuronal Imaging or DNI, would be a new potential functional imaging modality of the brain, and will be based on the direct measurement of the ultra-weak magnetic fields induced by the neuronal currents around neurons by looking at ultra-weak changes in NMR signal properties.
This technique is currently being investigated by means of theoretical works and a long series of phantom experiments conducted in collaboration with the Physikalisch- Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Berlin and different other partners.
In order to have a better idea of what the project is about, interested people could have a
look on these most recent publications about this topic.
1) Höfner N, Albrecht HH, Cassará AM, Curio G, Hartwig S, Haueisen J, Hilschenz I, Körber R, Martens S, Scheer HJ, Voigt J, Trahms L, Burghoff M. Are brain currents detectable by means of low-field NMR? A phantom study. Magn Reson Imaging. 2011 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21907519.
2) Cassará AM, Maraviglia B, Hartwig S, Trahms L, Burghoff M. Neuronal current detection with low-field magnetic resonance: simulations and methods. Magn Reson Imaging. 2009 Oct;27(8):1131-9. Epub 2009 Mar 9. Review. PubMed PMID:19269766.
3) Cassarà AM, Maraviglia B. Microscopic investigation of the resonant mechanism for the implementation of nc-MRI at ultra-low field MRI. Neuroimage. 2008 Jul 15;(4):1228-41. Epub 2008 Apr 8. PubMed PMID:18474435.
4) Cassarà AM, Hagberg GE, Bianciardi M, Migliore M, Maraviglia B. Realistic simulations of neuronal activity: a contribution to the debate on direct detection of neuronal currents by MRI. Neuroimage. 2008 Jan 1;39(1):87-106. Epub 2007 Sep 7. PubMed PMID: 17936018.
With the aim of testing and calibrating a new NMR instrumentation for new specific measurements of the neuronal currents, we would be interested on starting a scientific collaboration and an active debate with some groups experienced in Micro Electrode Recording of human brain. Data coming from invasive recordings are an essential ingredient for our comprehension of the neuronal activity and for understanding the kind of online processing MEG data useful for the experiments.
We would be interested on using previously recorded MER data for simulations and in order to achieve new additional information about the timing and the electromagnetic structure of the neuronal currents in the microscopic scale.
People interested on collaborations, are invited to contact Dr. Antonino Mario Cassara’.
Antonino Mario Cassara’