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2009 Grants - King
Complexity Measures of the Cerebral Cortex in Neurodegenerative Disease
Richard Daniel King, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
2009 New Investigator Research Grant
Currently, physicians treating patients with neurodegenerative diseases have limited methods for diagnosing disease and monitoring progression. In general, disease progression is monitored by assessing an individual's cognitive function using behavioral tests. It is known from autopsy studies, however, that brain structure changes during disease progression. Unfortunately, there are no reliable brain imaging methods for monitoring disease progression in living persons.
Richard Daniel King, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues are developing a mathematical method that quantifies structural properties of the brain visualized using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The purpose of this research is to develop a reliable way to distinguish between different neurodegenerative diseases, and to monitor the progression of disease over time or with treatment. The researchers are using a quantitative measure called the fractal dimension, which represents the complexity of brain structure. Using this measure, Dr. King and colleagues will identify how brain structure changes in several different neurodegenerative conditions. They will also test whether changes in fractal dimension correspond to changes in cognitive function. These studies will advance the potential use of MRI to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases in their earliest stages, and to monitor the rate and severity of disease progression.