World's most powerful MRI scans first images of human brain

This power allows the machine to scan images with 10 times more precision than the MRIs commonly used in hospitals

Desk Report

Apr 2 2024 2:24 PM

World's most powerful MRI scans first images of human brain
This image made with the Iseult Magneton 11.7 T MRI shows a brain during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam simulation at the Neurospin facilities in the Paris-Saclay Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission centre in Gif-sur-Yvette, on March 22, 2024. Photo: AFP.

The debut of the world's most potent MRI scanner has unveiled its initial images of human brains, marking a significant advancement in precision that is anticipated to provide deeper insights into the complexities of our minds, as well as the ailments afflicting them.

France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) researchers initially utilized the device to scan a pumpkin in 2021. However, health authorities have now granted approval for human scans, reports AFP.

Over the past few months, around 20 healthy volunteers have become the first to enter the maw of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, which is located in the Plateau de Saclay area south of Paris, home to many technology companies and universities.

"We have seen a level of precision never reached before at CEA," said Alexandre Vignaud, a physicist working on the project.

The magnetic field created by the scanner is a whopping 11.7 teslas, a unit of measurement named after inventor Nikola Tesla.

This power allows the machine to scan images with 10 times more precision than the MRIs commonly used in hospitals, whose power does not normally exceed three teslas.

On a computer screen, Vignaud compared images taken by this mighty scanner, dubbed Iseult, with those from a normal MRI.

"With this machine, we can see the tiny vessels which feed the cerebral cortex, or details of the cerebellum which were almost invisible until now," he said.

France's research minister Sylvie Retailleau, herself a physicist, said "the precision is hardly believable!"

"This world-first will allow better detection and treatment for pathologies of the brain," she said in a statement to AFP.

The design is the result of two decades of research by a partnership between French and German engineers.

 

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