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Health Beat: Brain mapping: Possible road to a cure

Health Beat: Brain mapping: Possible road to a cure

LOS ANGELES - We know maps can lead us to some of our favorite destinations, but did you know they may also put us on the road to better health? Now, new research in brain mapping may help find treatments to some of the most common neurological and memory disorders.

Dr. Mayank Mehta is one of a number of researchers at UCLA studying the secrets of the human brain.

"We hope this could help us understand what goes wrong in Alzheimer's disease," said Mehta, a professor of neurology, physics and astronomy.

Mehta mapped neuron patterns that form when rats do simple tasks in hopes of learning more about how different sections of the brain communicate.

"The brain has its own dynamics, its own laws of physics. If that goes wrong, clearly it will play a role in loss of memory, such as Alzheimer's or PTSD," Mehta explained.

They're diseases that Dr. Arthur Toga said may one day be treated with targeted therapies using brain mapping. 

"Our ability to look at a living brain of an individual that has a disease, or has had a traumatic brain injury, has allowed us to target exactly what has happened and suggest various therapies," said Arthur Toga, director of the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

For the first time, Toga's team has mapped the progression of Alzheimer's in the brain. 

"The net result is almost a four dimensional map showing you the trajectory of loss of tissue," Toga said.

While understanding and unlocking the secrets of the brain may take many years, researchers said it will be worth it when those secrets lead to treatments and possible cures. 

"Well, every few months is a bigger breakthrough," Toga said.

Researchers said they'd eventually like a large library of brain maps that will help them compare brains of people who suffer from similar diseases. This library will help doctors across the world give personalized treatment to each patient.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Mayank Mehta about new research in brain mapping

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