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Brain wave

04 April 2008

Dr Alexander Leemans

Cardiff University research to improve knowledge of the structure and function of the human brain has been recognised with an award.

Dr Alexander Leemans, from Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), has won first prize in the General Electric (GE) Brain Expert competition. The results were announced at the European Congress of Radiology.

Using a recently developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called diffusion tensor imaging, scientists can investigate in incredible detail the organization of the brain’s white matter (which acts as the 'wiring' of the central nervous system).

Dr Leemans’ winning research examined methods to improve the reliability of the information extracted from the data acquired. In particular he looked at the difficulties caused by head motion that occurs during scanning.

Dr Leemans, School of Psychology said: "A scan can take up to 20 minutes - so lying still while acquiring the data is not trivial. To mitigate this adverse effect motion correction methods can be applied after scanning. This project investigated the effect of neglecting an important reorientation step while correcting for such a head motion. Although many research groups omit the reorientation step, our work shows that it could have potentially serious consequences for example in surgical planning."

Professor Derek Jones, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre said: "Dr Leemans’ work exemplifies CUBRIC’s principal aim of developing robust methods for improved assessment of brain structure and function putting Cardiff, and Wales, at the international forefront of developments in brain imaging."

The prize of €5,000 (£3,934) to promote innovative research was sponsored by GE Healthcare.