Methods development and applications for neuromelanin-sensitive MRI

Dopamine and noradrenaline are neurotransmitters that are released from neurons located in the substantia nigra and locus coeruleus. Therefore, these brain structures have the unique property of containing high concentrations of neuromelanin, a dark pigment that can be visualized with specialized MRI sequences. The neuromelanin-sensitive MRI signal has been used to visualize degeneration of these neurons. Recent work has shown that this signal can also serve as a proxy measure for long-term imbalance in activity of these neurotransmitter systems. This line of work will investigate this novel measure as a potential biomarker in diverse populations including, PTSD, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, and healthy children. The goal of this line of work is to develop and optimize the method and test it in expanded research and clinical applications.

Faculty Supervisor:

Clifford Cassidy


Rami Hamati;Ramy Al Haddad;Ahmad Sibahi;Martina Speck


Terran Biosciences


Biochemistry / Molecular biology


Professional, scientific and technical services


University of Ottawa



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