Putting Wales on the Map; Understanding the Causes of Mental Health Problems and Neurological Disease Is a Key Challenge for Scientists. but Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre Is Set to Give Unprecedented Insights into Conditions like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Autism. Here, Paul Gauci Looks at How the Centre's Researchers Are Helping to Unlock the Secrets of the Brain

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), June 8, 2016 | Go to article overview

Putting Wales on the Map; Understanding the Causes of Mental Health Problems and Neurological Disease Is a Key Challenge for Scientists. but Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre Is Set to Give Unprecedented Insights into Conditions like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Autism. Here, Paul Gauci Looks at How the Centre's Researchers Are Helping to Unlock the Secrets of the Brain


Amulti-million-pound investment has put Wales firmly on the map for advanced neuroimaging research.

Cardiff University Brain Imaging Research Centre (CUBRIC) has moved in to a new PS44m building in Maindy Road as part of the university's ambitious plans to create an "innovation campus".

The 6,500m2 facility is four times larger than the original CUBRIC and will bring together some of the world's leading experts in neuroimaging, clinical research and genetics with cutting-edge equipment that will help unlock the secrets of the brain.

Research conducted at the centre will help scientists better understand the causes of a range of mental health problems such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, as well as neurological diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

The building houses a number of laboratories, each set up to investigate different aspects of the brain. These include labs focused on studying electrical activity in the brain using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG), as well as a purposebuilt clinical research suite. Another core feature of the building are the four magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) labs, each equipped with advanced MRI scanners - one of which is the most powerful scanner for imaging brain connections in Europe and only the second of its kind in the world.

The gradients of this PS4m Connectome MRI scanner are six times more powerful than those of conventional scanners used in hospitals and will allow scientists to study brain cells with a diameter of around 1,000th of a millimetre, or one micron.

To put that into perspective, the diameter of a single strand of human hair ranges from 17 to 180 microns.

CUBRIC also houses a 7 Tesla MRI scanner, which is one of only three in the UK and the only one in Wales. The scanner uses a giant magnet, which is around seven times stronger than magnets used to pick up cars in junk yards, to produce detailed, high- resolution images of the brain.

The unique facility is near the university's Hadyn Ellis Building, which is home to a number of experts working in the fields of neuroscience, mental health and psychiatric genetics.

It will act as a hub for the UK and Europe, bringing together clinical and academic research communities for the benefit of patients in Wales and further afield.

"This new facility will offer us unprecedented insights into the relationship between mental disorders and the structure and functioning of the brain," said Professor David Linden, a psychiatrist specialising in neuropsychiatry.

"This better understanding can then be used to help us develop new treatments and diagnostic tools."

Professor Linden is a principal investigator at the Health and Care Research Wales-funded National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), and a leading expert on neuroimaging. He has a particular interest in an emerging area of neuroimaging called neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback is a technique that focuses on training people to regulate their own brain activity. Using sophisticated technology, scientists are able to detect the activity of nerve cells and translate the data in to images.

These images are then fed back to individuals in real time so they can see what happens to their brain as they think certain thoughts or experience particular emotions. …

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Putting Wales on the Map; Understanding the Causes of Mental Health Problems and Neurological Disease Is a Key Challenge for Scientists. but Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre Is Set to Give Unprecedented Insights into Conditions like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Autism. Here, Paul Gauci Looks at How the Centre's Researchers Are Helping to Unlock the Secrets of the Brain
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