Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

Fascinating neuroimaging at the ABC

11 November 2010


The group at the Aston Brain Centre, Aston University (ABC)have, as ever, been engaged in a wide range of research activities in order to study human behaviour and brain function.

The group continues to elucidate the sensitivity and value of non invasive methods and to evaluate how these methods may be used as a direct replacement for animal experimentation. Although the group use many different techniques, in an integrated way, during their research, in order to produce the greatest amount of information possible regarding neural processing, the studies outlined here use MRI as the main tool.

The group are working in the following areas; vision, neurodevelopment and clinical research, cognition and pharmacokinetics. A brief summary is given here and more information on this project and others will be available soon in our next edition of New Science.

In the field of pharmacokinetics, the group looked at the effect of a drug, Zolpidem, on a stroke patient. Zolpidem has previously been reported to have an “awakening” effect in patients in a persistent vegetative state. The MRI and MRS scans of the patient showed that they had an area with “absolutely no viability” in one area of the brain. The SPECT scan, however, showed improved circulation in the affected half of the brain, following the administration of the drug. The group reported how the patients’ “functional deficits and pathological oscillations” did appear to be reduced following the drug.

In the field of neurodevelopment the group have reported studies were carried out involving two children with rare neurological disorders related to epilepsy. One child’s brain was studied as she conducted certain tasks requiring her to move her fingers whilst being scanned for a recording period of 1 hour. The data from this girl was compared to results from her twin sister. This is the sort of work which cannot be done in animals and shows the elegance and real scientific relevance of these cutting edge technologies.

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