Revealed: Indians Have Smaller Brains

The average Indian brain is smaller in length, width and height than the brains of western and eastern populations, including the Chinese and Koreans. IIT-Hyderabad researchers, through the first-ever Indian brain MRI atlas, concluded that these differences could have huge implications for early diagnosis of brain diseases.

As reported by The Hindu, the human brain atlas was constructed in collaboration with the Department of Imaging Sciences and Interventional Radiology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.

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The research was led by professor Jayanthi Sivaswamy from the Centre for Visual Information Technology, who spoke about the lack of an Indian brain template in neuroscience studies.

Jayanthi Sivaswamy“We know medical images play a big role in diagnosis and the idea of building our own Indian brain atlas came from a neuro-radiologist at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute. He was remarking that it is the MNI template that comes typically loaded in the MRI scanning machines, leaving us bereft of normative information.”

The first digital brain atlas, along with subsequent other brain atlases, were created by Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) and International Consortium for Brain Mapping (ICBM). But these were based on Caucasian brains, making them unrepresentative of people in other regions with different brain morphologies.

Jayanthi Sivaswamy“There are many changes that take place in a brain due to advancing age, with the most typical one being atrophy, which means shrinking of structures as it happens in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s. With the number of aged persons increasing, there are more incidences of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It is important to understand structurally what is normal too, so we can catch such conditions early on.”

For this purpose, Alphin Thottupattu, a research student, has been collecting MRI scans from people across different age groups, ranging from 20 to 60, to create their brain atlases and track changes over time.

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