BRAIN MRI and Autism

Autism and Brain MRI

Wessam Bou-Assaly, MD

A national research network led by UNC School of Medicine’s Joseph Piven, MD, found
that many toddlers diagnosed with autism at two years of age had a substantially greater
amount of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at six and 12 months of age, before
diagnosis is possible. They also found that the more CSF at six months — as measured
through MRIs — the more severe the autism symptoms were at two years of age.
Until the last decade, the scientific and medical communities viewed CSF as merely a
protective layer of fluid between the brain and skull, not necessarily important for
proper brain development and behavioral health. But scientists then discovered that
CSF acted as a crucial filtration system for byproducts of brain metabolism.
Every day, brain cells communicate with each other. These communications cause brain
cells to continuously secrete byproducts, such as inflammatory proteins that must be
filtered out several times a day. The CSF handles this, and then it is replenished with
fresh CSF four times a day in babies and adults.
The researchers found that increased CSF predicted with nearly 70 percent accuracy
which babies would later be diagnosed with autism. It is not a perfect predictor of autism, but the CSF differences are observable on a standard MRI. “

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Meditation and Brain Structure

Effect of Meditation on the Brain

Wessam Bou-Assaly, MD

  

The effect of the meditation on the brain has been a subject of many researches recently. Meditation appears to have an amazing neurological benefits, suspected from ancient times, just now being confirmed by MRI, functional MRI and EEG.

Most recently, a study conducted by a Harvard affiliated team out of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), concluded that meditation has tangible effects, confirmed by MRI, on the human brain structure. An 8 week program of mindfulness meditation studied by MRI scans, showed  for the first time clear evidence that meditation produces “massive changes” in brain Gray Matter.

MRI scans documented for the first time how meditation produces massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. The structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, showed thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.

Meditation also appears to help preserve the aging brain. A study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain.

A Yale University interesting studies in the last few years, found that mindfulness meditation also decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, though its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this.

A Johns Hopkins study looked at the relationship between Mindfulness Meditation and its effect on depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3 but equal to the effect size for antidepressants which is also 0.3, which makes the effect of Meditation sound pretty good, making the Meditation an active form of brain training.

Meditation has central effects on improving attention and concentration, reduces anxiety, especially social anxiety, can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction, including quitting smoking and can help kids in school performance.

Wessam Bou-Assaly, MD is a Radiologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Wessam Bou-Assaly – Everything You Ought to Know About Radiology

Radiology is a field of medicine that involves using imaging techniques to diagnose and treat illnesses inside the human body. Doctor Wessam Bou-Assaly is an experienced radiologist who specializes in neuroradiology and nuclear medicine. He has been studying and working in this field for several years and his highly knowledgeable about radiology.

Radiologists regularly use several different types of medical equipment. In order to diagnose their patients, they use X-ray imaging, ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT), and other devices. These imaging machines use different methods to create an image of the inside of the human body. Radiologists can then use those images to diagnose, and then to treat patients.

Radiologists have to go through a lot of training before they are able to make diagnoses. These medical professionals have a medical degree and are required to complete a residency in radiology. Some radiologists choose to specialize in neuroradiology or nuclear medicine. These individuals have to complete additional training through a fellowship program.

Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty of radiology. Doctors who are trained in this field are able to perform procedures that use positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They have additional diagnostic skills and are able to help a wider group of patients. Neuroradiology is another subspecialty that focuses on imaging the brain, head, neck and spine for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Doctor Wessam Bou-Assaly is an experienced radiologist who has years of academic experience as well as practical medical experience. He enjoys working and studying in radiology.