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National Institute on Drug Abuse News Release NIDA News Release
FOR RELEASE, March 3, 1999 Contact: Jan Lipkin
Public Information & Liaison Branch
301-443-1124

Advances in Imaging and Understanding the Human Brain Featured in NIH Commemoration of Brain Awareness Week


Noninvasive technology has become the scientist's window into the brain and how it functions. Neuroimaging, the theme of this year's Brain Awareness Week symposia at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) enables researchers and physicians to get a three-dimensional picture of brain structure and activity, a valuable tool in understanding normal brain function, as well as in diagnosing and treating disease or injury. Brain Awareness Week is a nationwide effort, organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, to promote the public and personal benefits of brain research.

To help commemorate Brain Awareness Week, NIH is sponsoring morning and evening symposia on March 16, showcasing what scientists are learning about the brain from neuroimaging advances. "Neuroimaging: Glimpses into the Working Brain," will feature both the history and future of imaging technology. Many people have heard of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), two noninvasive neuroimaging techniques that probe patterns of activity in the living human brain, but few fully understand these and other neuroimaging techniques. Speakers will describe how physicians and scientists can use PET, MRI and other neuroimaging techniques to see images inside the brain whilehumans think, learn, remember, and experience. These images can be used, for example, to assess the degree and rate of recovery after brain injury; to measure the impact of medications, drug abuse, and disease on brain function and structure; and to better understand the relationship between brain function, structure, and behavior. These symposia are free, and no registration is required.

In the morning session, scientists will discuss how neuroimaging allows us glimpses into the brain during development and aging, and into the neurobiology of drug addiction. This session will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Masur Auditorium, Warren E. Magnusen Clinical Center (Building 10). Featured speakers include: Marcus Raichle, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine; Bruce Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital; Nora Volkow, M.D., Brookhaven National Laboratories; and Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital.

The evening portion of "Glimpses into the Working Brain," designed for educators and the general public, will highlight the advances in understanding memory, perception, and other cognitive abilities, and in elucidating the correlation between brain structure and function and mental illness. This session will begin at 7:00 p.m., also in Masur Auditorium. Featured speakers are Steven E. Hyman, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Ursula Bellugi, Ed.D., Salk Institute. Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), will provide introductory remarks.

NIDA is coordinating this year's NIH Brain Awareness Activities, in cosponsorship with NIH's National Institute on Aging; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders; National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; National Institute of Mental Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; National Institute of Nursing Research; National Eye Institute; and National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute.

NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish, by calling NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (-644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (-889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the Home page at http://www.nida.nih.gov/.


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