The two primary objectives of the Norwegian Brain Initiative (NORBRAIN) are to:
- better understand the integrated functional systems of the brain and use this knowledge to develop new diagnostic tools and new treatments against neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.
- create a large-scale national infrastructure by which new generations of research tools can be used by neuroscientists to provide insight into how complex mental functions and dysfunctions emerge from distributed neuronal activity in local brain circuits.
- encourage researchers from institutions throughout Norway to use the new facilities for innovative work in their own fields.
- strengthen Norwegian research through recruitment of the best foreign scientists for faculty positions, post docs and PhD students.
- enable Norway to maintain and enhance its strong position in the field of neuroscience.
NORBRAIN Stage 1 received in 2011 80 million in funding from the Research Council of Norway. However, with the clinical 7T MR scanner in Stage 2 NORBRAIN will be unique on an international level, because it will be completely vertically integrated, from atomic and cellular analyses in simple model systems to studies of brain systems in living, thinking humans. Breakthroughs in basal neuroscience can be translated into research on human brain function that may help combat the health challenges associated with major brain disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Although MR imaging is one of the most powerful tools for studies of human brain function, the widely available 3T MR scanners have limited temporal and spatial resolution. With a 7T MR scanner the spatial resolution can be pushed down to 0,2 mm for anatomical imaging and 0,5 - 1,0 mm for functional imaging. This dramatic improvement opens for human in-vivo studies of cortical layers and columns and closer to the functional and computational units of the brain than the global regions mapped with conventional 3T MR.
NORBRAIN Stage 1 received NOK 80 million in funding in 2011. However, with the 7 Tesla clinical MR scanner in Stage 2 we will make NORBRAIN a research infrastructure unique on an international level, because it will be completely vertically integrated, from atomic and cellular analyses in simple model systems to studies of brain systems in living, thinking humans. Breakthroughs in basal neuroscience can be translated into research on human brain function that may help combat the health challenges associated with major brain disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
The co-location of a hybrid PET-MR and a clinical 7 Tesla MR scanner in the same university hospital area in Trondheim will provide a unique environment for research on the most advanced methods in medical imaging. The MR technology is developing rapidly and the importance of MR for society will increase in the future. It is vital for Norway to have high-level multidisciplinary research-based expertise in MR technology and its applications. For this purpose Norwegian researchers must have access to state-of-the-art MR technology in a well-organized research infrastructure. The time is right to invest in a clinical 7 Tesla MR scanner.