SF VA Brain Research Technology Advances

Victoria Colliver | SFGate | August 1, 2012

A room in the basement of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center is undergoing renovations for a new, $8 million magnetic resonance imaging machine, which will join an arsenal of some of the most powerful research scanners in the world.

The machine, known as a 7T - "T" standing for tesla, a unit of magnetic field - will offer researchers a more in-depth look than the VA center's current MRIs provide into the details of the brain and the roles biological markers play in developing dementia, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other cognitive problems.

New, ultra-high resolution MRIs help researchers view details in the brain that they used to be able to see only after a patient died, such as subtle changes in brain structure and function and other abnormalities associated with Alzheimer's disease. The hope is that by seeing such signs earlier, doctors will be able to detect the disease earlier...