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

Published April 3, 2024
A BRAIN snapped during magnetic resonance imaging exam simulation at Paris-Saclay Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission centre.—AFP
A BRAIN snapped during magnetic resonance imaging exam simulation at Paris-Saclay Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission centre.—AFP

SACLAY: The world’s most powerful MRI scanner has delivered its first images of human brains, reaching a new level of precision that is hoped will shed more light on our mysterious minds — and the illnesses that haunt them.

Researchers at France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) first used the machine to scan a pumpkin back in 2021. But health authorities recently gave them the green light to scan humans.

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.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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