Saturday, October 10, 2009
Is My Brain Connected?
Picture is from Wikipedia.
This is the latest study I am involved in:
"Brain Connectivity and Executive Functioning in MS (MRI Scanning Assessment)
This study may help us identify differences in the brain structure of persons with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who have problems on tests that require speeded thinking and processing of information.
In this study we will be using Magnetic Resonance Imaging to give us a picture of a person’s brain and a way of analyzing these pictures, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) that shows us the connections between different brain regions. We are using DTI to see if we can identify whether people with MS who have problems on tests that require speeded thinking and processing of information have disruption of specific connections. Another imaging method, called functional MRI (fMRI) will also be used to see if brain regions with these connections are working together. This will help us to understand whether the tests of speeded thinking, DTI and fMRI are good ways to investigate these problems for people with MS who have concerns about their thinking. To do this we will complete MRI scans on about 6 persons with MS who have problems on these test and 6 who do not. DTI and fMRI scans are experimental MRI methods that are not used in regular clinical care of people with MS.
Because MS is a disease that can affect the brain at any time, and because people can get better on some tests with practice, we also want to look at whether there are changes on MRI scan and changes in test performance over time. To do this we will ask the people who are selected for the MRI part of the study to repeat some of the tests and the MRI six times, at one month intervals."
So basically, they give me a bunch of speed and processing tests (including the dreaded PASAT or Piss test -as I call it) then put me in an MRI machine and take pictures to check out the brain connections I have or don't have, as the case may be. Two weeks ago, I went in for the tests and last Saturday I had the first of six scheduled MRIs. 5 more to go.
In the past two months I have given 4 brief talks about the importance of the MS Society to me. I was asked to speak to employees of different government departments who are involved in the current United Way campaign. As the MS Society of Canada is a member agency of the United Way, it's important to talk to folks about what the MS Society does so people can know more about where their donated dollars go. Response has been really good so far, and the folks I've talked to will go back to their co-workers armed with more information about MS, encouraging them to donate to the United Way, or to the MS Society directly. I really enjoy these short talks because I can demonstrate to these people what I'm doing for the cause. Then I ask them to do their part. When they hear that I volunteer for these MRIs or neuro-psychological tests, they are impressed. I only hope they're impressed enough to give some of their hard earned dollars.
As an unexpected bonus, I have been able to do some networking, which I hope leads to a paying gig one of these days.