Imaging: New MRI Method to Assess Neural Activity in Real Time

Development of a Calcium-Sensitive MRI Probe for Neural Activity
2010 Seed Grant
Lei Wang, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Northwestern University

Dr. Wang proposes a new collaboration between chemists, biomedical and electrical engineers and neuroscientists to develop a MRI contrast method that directly assesses neural activity in real time. This new method is made possible by the recent development of novel chemical compounds designed to be exquisitely sensitive to changes in Ca2+ levels that mimic those seen in living animals. These compounds will enable us to directly measure changes in Ca2+ levels in living mammalian brain. This proposal would fund the first studies in mammalian brain of an MRI contrast agent that is able to detect changes in Ca2+ levels in specific brain regions that occur when an injury disrupts the normal pattern of neuronal firing.