Posts Tagged brain scan

[WEB SITE] How does music therapy work? Brain study sheds light

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Music therapy works, but no one is really sure how. Now, a novel type of brain scan may provide key insight.

man listening to music

Music is a powerful thing. In fact, it forms the basis of a type of therapy, the aptly named “music therapy.”

During sessions, a music therapist attempts to form a bond with their client in order to enhance well-being and improve confidence, communication skills, awareness, and attention.

There are several types of music therapy. Some involve simply listening to relaxing music while talking. Others involve making music with instruments, which can be particularly effective for those who struggle to communicate verbally.

One type, known as the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) aims to facilitate discussion. The therapist plays music and asks the client to describe the images that come to mind.

Trials have found benefits to music therapy, but how it works remains unclear.

Using GIM as their focus, a team led by two experts from Anglia Ruskin University, in the United Kingdom — Prof. Jörg Fachner and Clemens Maidhof, Ph.D. — set out to find the answer. Their findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Discovering important moments

The goal of a music therapist is to reach a “moment of change” in which they can strengthen their connection with their client. Therapists and clients often describe feeling in sync, and now there is evidence to prove it.

In the current study, the researchers used hyperscanning — a procedure that can simultaneously record two people’s brain activities — to study a music therapist’s session with a client.

The method, says lead author Prof. Fachner, “can show the tiny, otherwise imperceptible, changes that take place during therapy.”

The therapist and client wore EEG caps to record the electrical signaling in their brains, and the session was filmed. Ultimately, the researchers hoped to learn more about how the individuals interacted.

“Music, used therapeutically, can improve well-being and treat conditions including anxietydepressionautism, and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient’s response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient’s brain,” says Prof. Fachner.

Once the recordings were complete, the researchers asked the therapist, client, and two other GIM therapy experts to watch the video and each note down three moments of change, as well as one unimportant moment.

A clear connection

The team examined their answers for overlap to see whether any points were of interest to all four participants. A couple of moments fell into this category.

With that knowledge, Prof. Fachner and Maidhof examined the EEG readings from those moments. They paid particular attention to the areas of the brain that process positive and negative emotions.

Surprisingly, they came up with an image that illustrates a moment of change inside the brain.

When the client’s brain switched from negative emotions to positive ones, their EEG recording clearly showcased this. A few moments later, the therapist’s brain showed the exact same pattern.

Both the therapist and client later identified this moment as a point when they felt that the session was working. Not only were their thoughts in sync, but their brain activity, too.

The researchers also noted increased activity in both participants’ visual cortexes during these moments of change.

More effective therapy

It is unlikely that other case studies will provide the exact same results, due to the personalized nature of therapy. But more research will need to go into therapist-client relationships before the synchronicity can be confirmed.

Still, Prof. Fachner described the study as “a milestone in music therapy research.”

Music therapists report experiencing emotional changes and connections during therapy, and we’ve been able to confirm this using data from the brain.”

Prof. Jörg Fachner

He adds that the study has further implications than just proving a point. He explains, “By highlighting the precise points where sessions have worked best, it could be particularly useful when treating patients for whom verbal communication is challenging.”

The findings could also make music therapy more effective by exposing when and how a therapist should intervene for maximum efficacy.

And, as Prof. Fachner notes, studies such as this may “help [researchers] better understand emotional processing in other therapeutic interactions.”

 

via How does music therapy work? Brain study sheds light

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[TEDx Talk] The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans – Daniel Amen

via The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans | Daniel Amen | TEDxOrangeCoast – YouTube

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[WEB SITE] Can MRI Brain Scans Help Us Understand Epilepsy?

epilepsy

A massive meta-analysis of global MRI imaging data on epilepsy patients seeks to clarify a complicated and mysterious neurological disorder.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by seizures, which can vary from mild and almost undetectable to severe, featuring vigorous shaking. Almost 40 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy. Epileptic seizures are caused by an abnormally high level of activity in nerve cells in the brain. A small number of cases have been tied to a genetic defect, and major trauma to the brain (such as an injury or stroke) can also induce seizures. However, for the majority of cases, the underlying cause of epilepsy is not known. In many instances, epilepsy can be treated with the use of anti-convulsant medication. Some people will experience an improvement in their symptoms to the point of no longer requiring medication, while others will not respond to medication at all. The variability of the disease with regards to physiology and progression makes it difficult to accurately diagnose.

How Does Epilepsy Affect the Brain?

There are multiple types of epilepsies, some more common than others, which affect different parts of the brain cortex. The disorder has been studied by using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and analyses of brain tissue. The latter requires post-mortem collection of tissue, as biopsies are not routinely performed on living patients’ brains. A brain scan via MRI imaging can provide detail about pathological markers of epilepsy, but the massive amount of data collected worldwide by imaging has not yet been consolidated and analyzed in a robust manner. Gaining an understanding of distinct or shared disease markers for different forms of epilepsy could help clinicians identify targets for therapy and increase the personalization of treatment.

The ENIGMA Study

A recent study published in the journal BRAIN represents the largest neuroimaging analysis of epilepsy conducted to date.This study, called ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis)summarizes contributions from 24 research centers across 14 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. Similar wide-ranging studies have revealed structural brain abnormalities in other neurological conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The researchers had several goals in putting this meta-analysis together:

  1. To look at distinct types of epilepsy to see whether they share similar structural abnormalities of the brain.
  2. To analyze a well-known specific type of epilepsy, mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) for differences between people afflicted with this disorder on different sides of the brain.
  3. To analyze idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGE), which are thought to have a genetic component to their cause and aren’t often detectable via MRI.

The researchers compiled imaging data from 2,149 people with epilepsy and 1,727 healthy control subjects. The large sample size allowed them to perform high-powered statistical analysis of the data.

For analysis (1), the results showed that a diverse array of epilepsies showed common structural anomalies across several different regions of the brain. This suggested that distinct disease types share a common neuroanatomical signature.

For analysis (2), they found that people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy on the right side of the hippocampus did not experience damage to the left side, and vice-versa. However, somewhat unexpectedly, they saw that damage extended to areas outside the hippocampus, suggesting that even a region-specific disorder like mesial temporal lobe epilepsy may be a network disease.

In analysis (3), the researchers found that contrary to many reports of a “normal” MRI for patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, several structural irregularities were observable over a large number of samples. These included reduced brain volume and thickness in several regions.

One Step Closer to Understanding Epilepsy

The authors noted some limitations to their study, such as the fact that all results were derived from cross-sectional data, meaning that it was not possible to determine whether certain features were the cause of severe brain damage at one point in time, or whether they were the product of progressive trauma. In addition, this study could not account for the possible contribution of other factors, such as medications, seizure type and frequency, and disease severity. However, this wide-scale meta-analysis represents an important step towards understanding how different types of epilepsies affect the brain, and hopefully can lead to more personalized and effective medical interventions.

Written by Adriano Vissa, PhD

Reference: Whelan CD, et al. Structural brain abnormalities in the common epilepsies assessed in a worldwide ENIGMA study. Brain. 2018; 141(2):391-408

 

via Can MRI Brain Scans Help Us Understand Epilepsy? – Medical News Bulletin | Health News and Medical Research

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[WEB SITE] Newcastle University experts offer hope to thousands of epilepsy sufferers

University experts in Newcastle using brain scans to help in their efforts to allow sufferers to lead a more normal life.

Doctor studying an MRI scan of the Brain

Doctor studying an MRI scan of the Brain

A hi-tech model that identifies the parts of a person’s brain responsible for epileptic seizures could help thousands of sufferers lead a more normal life, researchers say.

Scientists at Newcastle University have used brain scans from patients with the most common type of epilepsy – temporal lobe epilepsy – and computer modelling techniques to look at the brain as an example of a computer network.

By simulating brain activity within each patient-specific network, they successfully identified regions that were more prone to seizures.

The research is published today and is believed to be the first study to combine computational modelling of brain dynamics with patient-specific MRI data from individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Around 1% of the UK population suffers from epilepsy and, in many cases, it is an extremely debilitating illness.

Currently, anti-convulsant drugs are the main treatment but these are not always effective. In these cases, surgical removal of the parts of the brain indicated to be the source of the seizure is carried out. However, in about 30% of cases, surgery does not result in preventing seizures.

The research team, based in the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University, simulated surgery by disconnecting sections of the network that corresponded to the parts of the brain most commonly removed.

They also ran individual patient simulations, removing the most seizure-prone parts of the model for each person. By mimicking seizures before and after ‘surgery’, they found that patient-specific surgery showed, in every case, a significant improvement compared to removal of the regions most commonly taken out.

Computer modelling techniques are being used to look at the brain as an example of a computer network
Computer modelling techniques are being used to look at the brain as an example of a computer network

Dr Peter Taylor, who co-led the study, explained: “This research may help to explain why surgery is so often unsuccessful, as this work predicts that the areas most commonly removed in surgery are not always involved in starting and spreading seizures.

“It also takes us a step further towards rectifying the problem, as identifying the most seizure prone areas on an individual basis has the potential to show when the usual surgery procedures may not work for a patient.”

Research lead Frances Hutchings added: “Removal of brain tissue is often the final option for treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy but we know that it is not always effective.

“It’s early days and there is more work to be done, but this model could assist surgeons in targeting surgical procedures more effectively and help people with epilepsy lead a more normal life.”

In future, the team intend to check the model’s predictions against patient-specific surgical outcomes.

Professor Marcus Kaiser, Professor of Neuroinformatics at Newcastle University, said: “The next steps are to compare the computationally predicted outcomes with the actual surgery outcomes in individual patients and to investigate how alternative surgery targets can be included in the future treatment.”

Source: Newcastle University experts offer hope to thousands of epilepsy sufferers | Self Healing Health

 

 

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