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Indian Brain Templates: NIMHANS

  • 14 Sep 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

A team of neuroscientists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has developed Indian Brain Templates (IBT) and a brain atlas.

  • NIMHANS is a medical institution located in Bangalore, Karnataka. It is the apex centre for mental health and neuroscience education in the country and operates autonomously.

Key Points

  • Brain Template: It is a gross representation from various brain images to understand brain functionality in diseased conditions.
  • Background:
    • The Montreal Neurological Index (MNI) template that India currently uses is based on Caucasian brains, which are different from Asian 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.
    • Some countries have their own scale to measure the brain, whereas India is still dependent on the Caucasian brain template.
  • NIMHANS Indian Brain Templates and Brain Atlas:
    • Neuroscientists studied over 500 brain scans of Indian patients to develop five sets of Indian Brain Templates (IBT) and a brain atlas.
    • IBT provides a scale that will measure an Indian brain. When most brain scans are taken, they need to be compared to a standard brain template — a model or standard for making comparisons from a group of individual brain scans.
      • Validation experiments and comparisons with existing international templates found that using the NIMHANS IBTs for Indian brains significantly improved the accuracy of alignment and thereby noticeably reducing distortions, errors or biases in final reports of brain structure and function.
    • Brain Atlas has been developed for five age groups covering late childhood to late adulthood (six to 60 years).
  • Expected Benefits from IBT and Brain Atlas:
    • These new population and age-specific Indian brain templates will allow more reliable tracking of brain development and ageing.
    • The templates and atlas will provide more precise reference maps for areas of interest in individual patients with neurological disorders like strokes, brain tumours, and dementia.
    • These will also help pool information more usefully in group studies of the human brain and psychological functions, aiding in understanding of psychiatric illnesses like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, substance dependence, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.

Way Forward

  • There have been similar attempts to develop brain templates previously in India, however they were typically focused on young adults and had a significantly smaller number of subjects. NIMHANS IBTs are based on a comprehensive scan.
  • NIMHANS IBTs can be incorporated in normal protocols of brain imaging in India.

Source: TH

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