Readers rate most transformative neuroscience to commemorate journal’s 100th birthday
Brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short, have topped a readers’ poll of the top 10 key milestones in clinical neuroscience over the past century.
The poll, to commemorate the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry’ s 100th birthday, invited readers to vote for what they considered the most transformative developments over the past 100 years.
Brain imaging, which includes MRI, came top. MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the living brain, and it’s innate function.
Before the advent of MRI, neurologists were wholly reliant on a physical neurological examination to make a diagnosis, with many diagnoses only confirmed after death at a post-mortem; now neurologists can draw on a microscopic series of imaging to understand the working brain in life.
A better understanding of brain structure in turn helped unlock the causes of neurodegenerative disease, particularly multiple sclerosis, where immune therapies can effectively turn off disease, a development that also featured among readers’ favourites.
Among the other vote winners were clot-busting drugs (thrombolysis) and more recently, clot retrieval (endovascular recanalisation therapy), which have given stroke patients a real chance of resuming normal life, and the discovery of causal genes. These have paved the way for gene therapies to stave off disease and informed a better understanding of the precipitating and protective factors.
The full list of 10 milestones is here:
1 Brain Imaging techniques (36.5% of the vote)
2 Thrombolysis and endovascular recanalisation therapy for the treatment of stroke (16.5%)
3 The effectiveness of L-Dopa for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease tremor (9%)
4 The discovery of nerve signalling (8%)
5 Immune therapies for Multiple Sclerosis (8%)
6 Uncovering disease processes in autoimmune disease, , such as encephalitis and the introduction of new treatments to block inflammation, such as rituximab (7%)
7 The discovery of genes involved in neurodegenerative disease (neurogenetics) (5%)
8 Treatments for mental ill health, 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 discovery, comes further understanding about the triggers for disease, and an appreciation of factors that underlie maintenance of brain and mental health,” says Professor Matthew Kiernan, Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
“And with such progress, further frontiers that previously seemed impossible, will be realised, from the brain-computer interface through to a regenerating brain.”
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