Researchers in the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center have used an imaging method normally reserved for humans to analyze brain activity in live agricultural swine models, and they have discovered that pig brains are even better platforms than previously thought for the study of human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s:
By using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), the researchers demonstrated functional connectivity in sensorimotor regions of the swine brain that parallels to that of the human brain. These regions include those where all our perceptions, feelings, movements and memories are encoded. The similarities of these functional networks, as published in the journal Brain Connectivity, set the stage for targeted clinical applications in the treatment and prevention of neurological disorders.
Franklin West, associate professor of animal and dairy science in College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and his RBC collaborator, Qun Zhao, drew comparisons between sensory and cognitive relevance found in swine and those previously established in humans.
“Most of the models to-date deal with structural comparisons,” said Zhao, associate professor of physics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “Our model goes beyond brain mass and allows us to address questions related to brain connectivity and memory function. Without a functional map of the brain it’s hard to tell what parts of the brain are talking to each other.”
Congratulations to these collaborative scientists on this important new work that has promising potential for detection and diagnosis of CTE in living patients.
Image: Franklin West, left, and Qun Zhao