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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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I have seen my own brain. [20110508|14:38]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , ]
[coordinates |La Jolla, CA]
[the weather today is |pleased]

This is my brain. See my ventricles glow yellow!


My friend Josh works with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data as part of his research. He offered to scan my brain while I'm visiting him here in San Diego. Of course I said yes. So yesterday, we went to visit the new 3.0 Tesla machine and I went inside it with a mixture of curiosity and fear.


The antechamber, with Josh at the controls


In the antechamber/control room, I dumped all my stuff and removed my belt, my ring and my shoes. It felt a little like preparing to go through airport security. We briefly discussed whether or not I should remove my tongue ring. Since my tongue heals very quickly, I decided to leave it in, even though it would make the 3D reconstructions look slightly weird because my mouth would drop out. You can see this effect in the images below. I put in the fluorescent yellow disposable earplugs and Josh led me into the MRI room.

The MRI


The MRI room is cold and filled with the thunking of mechanical pumps. I lay down on the scanner bed with my arms at my sides, feeling a bit like River Tam in Firefly. Josh arranged a blanket over me and gave me a squeeze ball so that I could let him know if I felt claustrophobic at any point. He would stop the scan and let me out if I didn't want to continue. He positioned my head under the headrest, which is equipped with a mirror so I had a rather dizzying inverted view of the room. The faceguard made me feel like Hannibal Lechter. He also supplied me with headphones, so he could talk to me between the scans. These also provided additional buffering from the noise of the scanner. Finally, he aligned the scanner with my head (with a laser! OK, only a weak HeNe, but it was still a laser) before the bed slid into the scanner headfirst. If you ever do this yourself, I advise not looking in the inverted mirror while the bed is moving. Bleurgh.

A scan is actually composed of several separate scans, which Josh kindly talked me through. The first lasted only 13 seconds, but gave me a feel for just how loud the machine is. It's LOUD. I don't understand how anyone sleeps through it. The second scan was over eight minutes long and the third and fourth were both four minutes long. I kept my eyes closed and breathed deeply, using the powernoise rhythm (ka-THUNK-chk, ka-THUNK-chk) of the machine to time my breath and try to stay still. I couldn't help tracking the sounds of the scanner with my eyes so there is some slight blurring around them in the images.

Grey matter in red, cerebrospinal fluid in yellow.


The above is a mid-sagittal cut through my brain, so it's positioned right between the two halves of my cerebrum.

A profile cut through a 3D surface reconstruction.


3D fluid reconstruction. Those are headphones, not my ears!


Happily, it appears that my brain is quite normal. Lots of grey matter nicely bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, healthy ventricles, no tumours.

I searched for the dropout in the "remember to bring pants" region, but the resolution wasn't high enough to see it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: melissa_maples
2011-05-08 15:36 (UTC)
These are amazing.

Did you experience any aftereffects? I had an MRI a few years back and I felt terrible for two days afterward. It happens to some people and not to others, apparently.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-08 16:02 (UTC)
How odd! What happened? Did you have headaches or body pain?

I don't think I'm experiencing aftereffects. I feel fine today. I fell asleep at 10 PM last night but I think that's more likely to be jet-lag than anything else!
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[User Picture]From: melissa_maples
2011-05-08 18:14 (UTC)
I had headaches and also that swaying feeling like when you've been on a boat all day and then you get off the boat but you still feel like you're on the boat. And I was exceptionally tired. Lasted for about 48 hours and then I was fine.
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[User Picture]From: alice_mccoy
2011-05-08 16:37 (UTC)
Thank you for sharing thats a fantastic set of images.

How does it feel though looking at yourself this way? Narcassistic? Existential? Humble?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-08 17:06 (UTC)
Exciting, mostly! I'm thrilled that I got to see my brain. It's an honour.
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From: anokapolis
2011-05-08 17:57 (UTC)
These are cool, now you know your brain is healthy:)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-09 15:25 (UTC)
Yes. Although what will I blame for my bouts of craziness now? ;D
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2011-05-08 18:03 (UTC)
How interesting! And cool that you got to keep the photos!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-09 15:27 (UTC)
I think I can probably get the whole data set. I need to upgrade my Mac before I can use the imaging software, though.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-09 15:28 (UTC)
NOM NOM NOM
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-09 15:28 (UTC)
I'll be on campus on Tuesday afternoon to visit with my PhD supervisor, so could meet afterward. Maybe Porters?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-11 03:31 (UTC)
Sent you an e-mail - heading over to Rock Bottom (La Jolla) now. Hopefully see you there, but if not, no worries! Sorry for being last-minute about things.
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[User Picture]From: trendyprof
2011-05-09 07:02 (UTC)
oo fancy!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-09 15:32 (UTC)
I thought so. I also wondered if anyone would actually say No if someone offered to scan their brain!
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[User Picture]From: wurlitzerprized
2011-05-10 20:31 (UTC)

your brain is quite beautiful

this is so fucking awesome! i would love to see my brain!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-14 20:03 (UTC)

Re: your brain is quite beautiful

Yes! He's done some more analysis on the data to make some awesome images. I have to get them from him.
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