NIMHANS develops Brain Atlas : Indian Brain Template

NIMHANS develops Brain Atlas : Indian Brain Template

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences is a renowned medical institution situated in Bengaluru. NIMHANS has developed new brain templates to scan brain structure of the patients. The neurosurgeons, neurologists and psychiatrists can very soon use the tool ‘Indian Brain Templates’ (IBT) for brain scanning and assessment process of the brain of the patients. A brain atlas has been developed by the neuroscientist team in NIMHANS.  

The neuroscientists researched through case study of 500 patients from Indian population in order to develop five sets of Indian brain templates and a brain atlas for five age groups ranging from late childhood to late adulthood that is six to sixty years (6-60 years). The templates are meant to give precise maps of the areas of interest in the brain of individuals having various neurological disorders, strokes, dementia or brain tumours. This is going to help in understanding the human brain and the psychological functions in a better way. The tool will be useful in understanding psychological disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Schizophrenia, Mood disorders etc.

Dr. Holla said that most brain scans (forexample MRI), which are taken need to be compared to a standard brain template for making comparisons from a group of individual brain scans. This in turn helps the researchers to identify the parts of brain. A challenging task for the researches will be that the size and shape of every human being changes with age and across various regions, ethnicities within any population. These differences are structural and not intellectual, but the challenges would be faced because it would be difficult to study the different brain functioning of individuals from different population and then come up with accurate results or conclusions about the same. The new population and age specific Indian brain templates will allow to have more reliable tracking of brain development and ageing. It is similar to how paediatricians monitor a child’s height or weight, for example, them using a growth chart to make the method and process valid and reliable.

Dr. Rose Dawn Bharat says that there have been previous attempts in this field for development. This study and development is very much focused on the young adults and had a smaller number of subjects for the same.

The Montreal Neurological Index (MNI) template that is used currently is based on Caucasian brains. The MNI template was made by averaging 152 healthy brain scans from just a small slice of the city’s population in North America. But Caucasian brains are different from Asian brains which is why it cannot be generalized. Dr. Vivek Benegal, Professor of Psychiatry, Centre for Addiction Medicine, one in the team of researchers said that,While some countries have their own scale to measure the brain, we are still dependent on the Caucasian brain template. What we have developed now is a scale that will measure an Indian brain,”.

The development of the Indian brain template is a great achievement for the country. The new research has led to opening up and exploring more in the field of medical science.

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