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U research taking brain research deeper and further

From left to right, University researchers Thomas Vaughan, Michael Garwood and Wei Chen pose in front of an MRI machine at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research Facility on Monday. The three researchers are working on two separate projects to develop next-generation neuroimaging technology. (By Elizabeth Brumley)

Traditional magnetic resonance imagining, or MRI, machines have their patients drawn into a large, noisy tube.

But now, the MRI process could become as simple as strapping on a helmet, thanks to a new technology partly developed by University of Minnesota scientists.

The project is one of two University projects that received a total of $2.5 million through two National Institutes of Health grants late last month. It was a part of President Barack Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies Initiative, or BRAIN, project.

The initiative supports high-risk neuroimaging projects that would otherwise struggle to secure funding, radiology professor Michael Garwood said.

While both University research projects focus on MRI technology, one will improve existing imaging and the other will create a brand new method of administering the test.

“We need to make MRI more portable, more accessible and lower cost before we retire,” Garwood said.