Last week Nature Medicine published an article on the work of CMI’s Dr. Michael Milham and his collaborators on functional magnetic resonance imagery and the future of psychiatric diagnosis. The growth of the field is quite staggering, writes Roxanne Khamsi, suggesting a future that moves incredibly quickly. “Back in 1995, people were still testing whether functional MRI was of any use,” a researcher tells her. Today, Dr. Milham has reached a point where clinical applications are looking more and more likely.
Part of the reason the field is moving so quickly is the explosion of data sharing and open neuroscience, as embodied by Dr. Milham endeavors like the 1,000 Functional Connectomes Project and the ADHD-200 competition. For the latter, Khamsi writes, the group had planned “to collect scans of 200 subjects, 100 with ADHD and 100 control counterparts. But when word got out about the competition, close to 1,000 scans poured in from eight different labs around the world.”
This amount of cooperation surprised even Dr. Milham. “We really overachieved on this one,” he tells Khamsi. But despite the bright future, fMRI isn’t ready for the doctor’s office, and we can’t know in what way the data being collected and analyzed will change diagnosis and treatment in the future. “I have a lot of people who ask me to use scanning to diagnose their child,” he says. “It’s not appropriate.” Until the future comes, diagnosis and treatment are in the hands of trained clinicians—which Dr. Milham is, as well.
Join Dr. Milham for a live tweetchat on the occasion of Brain Awareness Week, Tuesday, March 14th, 2012, at 1 pm EST. Dr. Milham will be joined by Dr. Richard Rende of Brown University and others.