Bangor 2014: Neuroimaging in Dementia

Filed: 11th Aug 2014

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In June, Bangor University hosted its second NeuroSKILL workshop, “Neuroimaging in Dementia”. The workshop aimed to enhance awareness, education and training in dementia through neuroimaging. Neuroimaging is recognised as having a vital and potentially transformative role in our understanding and treatment of dementia, through earlier diagnosis for patients and more targeted therapy. The workshop offered delegates two days of training.

Delegates were from a variety of backgrounds, including postgraduates in neuroscience, clinical psychologists, radiologists and old age psychiatrists. The first day involved a mix of lectures and interactive sessions and covered current research in dementia to advanced imaging modalities.

Untitled-5The First Day

Sessions by Dr Paul Mullins, introduced participants to the NeuroSKILL Project and gave them an overview of current imaging research in dementia. Professor Arun Bokde provided a detailed account of the clinical findings in dementia, highlighting neuroimaging techniques such as amyloid imaging and markers of neuronal function and injury.

Dr Jonathan McNulty gave an excellent introduction to modern imaging techniques and provided the audience with an in-depth account of patients’ experience of MRI scans. In addition to discussion of standard imaging techniques, a number of advanced imaging methodologies such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy and arterial spin labelling where introduced to delegates, widening the spectrum of techniques they could employ in future research.

Untitled-3Two interactive sessions, led by Dr Paul Mullins, also provided delegates with the opportunity to discuss the advantages of using imaging in dementia diagnosis and the chance to reflect upon how patients’ brain scans could offer a more personalised diagnosis for patients.

The first day concluded with the guest speaker, Dr Catherine MacLeod from the Dementia Services Development Centre at Bangor University, giving a useful presentation on the social implications of dementia and how to best promote healthy aging.

The Second Day

The second day, held at Bangor University’s imaging suite, provided delegates with hands-on exposure to the analysis of neuroimaging data. The teaching environment encouraged knowledge sharing, challenging debate and creativity. Delegates observed a volunteer being scanned and the steps involved in acquiring both structural and spectroscopy data, before being given the opportunity to do their own analysis of imaging data. Karolina Rusiak, whose research involves characterising the relationship between neurochemical changes and neural function in dementia, provided a tutorial in magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Dr Elizabeth Kehoe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Dervla Farrell, Research Assistant at Trinity College Dublin demonstrated hippocampal segmentation with FSL

Dr Nia Goulden, a Post-Doctoral Image Analyst at Bangor University, completed the workshop with her tutorial on functional imaging and resting state analysis. Through the targeted tutorials, delegates were able to build and foster the skills necessary to translate technical neuroimaging information into a more accessible format.

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A Closing Word

The 2014 NeuroSKILL workshop was tailored to meet the learning outcomes of postgraduates, researchers and clinical staff alike. The depth of information and the broad range of topics presented exemplified the complexities and challenges unique to that of researching dementia through neuroimaging. The collaboration of experts in radiology, dementia, clinical psychology and neuroscience illustrates the increasing collective and multidisciplinary approach needed in the fight against Dementia. NeuroSKILL is a bold demonstration of this effort.

We look forward to the next full NeuroSKILL course in Trinity College Dublin in September 2014.