Brain Imaging Techniques Lead in Poll of Key Milestones in Neurology Century

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Readers Evaluate Most Transformative Neurosciences to Commemorate Journal’s 100th Anniversary

Brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short, have dominated a reader’s poll of the top 10 milestones in clinical neuroscience over the past century.

The survey, to commemorate the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry ”s 100th anniversary, invited readers to vote for what they considered to be the most transformative developments over the past 100 years.

Brain imaging, which includes MRI, has come first. MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the living brain and its innate function.

Before the advent of MRI, neurologists depended entirely on a physical neurologic exam to make a diagnosis, with many diagnoses not being confirmed until after death during an autopsy; now, neurologists can rely on a series of microscopic imaging to understand how the brain works throughout life.

A better understanding of the structure of the brain has in turn helped uncover the causes of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis, where immune therapies can effectively deactivate the disease, a development that was also among readers’ favorites.

Other vote winners included blood thinners (thrombolysis) and more recently, clot recovery (endovascular recanalization therapy), which gave stroke patients a real chance to return to normal life, and the discovery of causal genes. These paved the way for gene therapies to prevent the disease and provided a better understanding of the triggers and protectors.

The full list of 10 milestones is here:

1 Brain imaging techniques (36.5% of votes)

2 Thrombolysis and endovascular recanalization therapy for the treatment of stroke (16.5%)

3 The effectiveness of L-Dopa for the treatment of tremors in Parkinson’s disease (9%)

4 The discovery of nerve signaling (8%)

5 Immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis (8%)

6 Discover pathological processes in autoimmune diseases, such as encephalitis and the introduction of new treatments to block inflammation, such as rituximab (7%)

7 The discovery of genes involved in neurodegenerative diseases (neurogenetics) (5%)

8 Treatments for mental illness, such as lithium, antidepressants, antipsychotics (4%)

9 Microscopic neurosurgical techniques to join veins and arteries and repair nerves (3.5%)

10 Deep brain stimulation (2.5%)

“With the discovery comes a better understanding of disease triggers and an appreciation of the factors that underpin the maintenance of brain and mental health,” said Professor Matthew Kiernan, editor of the journal.

“And with such advancements, other frontiers that previously seemed impossible will be realized, from the brain-computer interface to a regenerating brain.”

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