Database of MRI images will allow you to assess changes in the brain throughout life

(ORDO NEWS) — The new database contains hundreds of thousands of brain images of people in different periods of life – from the embryo to the centenarian.

An international team led by Richard Bethlehem of the University of Cambridge has managed to bring together data from more than a hundred previous brain imaging studies.

Scientists collected a total of 124 thousand MRI images of more than 100 thousand people of all ages – from a 16-week-old embryo to a 100-year-old man – brought them to a single standard and processed them.

The Brain Charts database is made available to all researchers studying the development of the brain and its age-related changes.

Analysis of the collected images made it possible to identify various tissues and regions of the brain on them and draw up “developmental maps” – similar to physical development maps (Growth Charts), with the help of which pediatricians assess the growth of a child as they grow up.

Likewise, the new Brain Charts make it possible to evaluate, for example, changes in the amount of white and gray matter that occur with age, up to very old age.

According to scientists, this work required a total of more than two million hours of computing with almost a whole petabyte of data.

database of MRI images will allow you to assess changes in the brain throughout life 2

The new data has already helped confirm some of the key points of age-related changes known from previous studies: say, that the amount of gray matter (which includes the bodies of neurons and supporting cells) reaches a maximum at about six years of age, after which it begins to slowly decline.

After 50 years, this process is noticeably accelerated. The amount of white matter (myelin fibers that connect neurons) increases longer, reaching a maximum by about 29 years.

But this is only the beginning: new data will certainly allow us to notice other, still unknown features of the brain in people of different ages and habits.

On Brain Charts MRI images, scientists marked not only the amount of white and gray matter, but also other important details: a total of 165 diagnostically significant elements.

The authors of the work hope that the new database will help not only researchers, but also physicians. Just as a child’s growth charts can compare growth with peers, so Brain Charts will enable doctors to compare patients’ brains with “reference” images and get more accurate assessments, for example, about brain degradation in Alzheimer’s patients.

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