Research theme: Neuroimaging

Neuroimaging is a central topic for research and clinical innovation at Maastricht UMC+, on which we also collaborate very closely with other partners on the Randwyck campus, particularly the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience/ Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (MBIC) and Scannexus. In addition to its central role in diagnostics of diseases of the nervous system, the research theme neuroimaging provides unique opportunities to understand mechanisms of disease and to improve treatment decisions.

The state-of-the art MRI facilities at the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine allow us to explore the brain in vivo and post-mortem with unparalleled spatial resolution. These operational MRI facilities are e.g.:

  • 2x 1.5T Ingenia systems; one with multinuclei options as well as 
  • 2x3T Achieva Tx digital systems; all Philips Healthcare; 
  • A clinical mMR system (PET-MRI @ 3T; Siemens Healthineers) and 
  • MBIC/ Scannexus (3 Tesla, 7 Tesla, 9.4 Tesla; all Siemens).

In parallel, we study brain function and metabolism at several levels, using functional MRI, radionuclide imaging: 

  • PET-MRI.
  • PET-CT.
  • Electroencephalography and 
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).

The neuroimaging research groups comprise over 50 PhD students and staff members from a wide range of departments.

Research Focus

Our neuroimaging research is closely aligned with the clinical research themes of MHeNs. We have active neuroimaging research projects in all our clinical pillars, with particular focus on: 

  • Population imaging, particularly the Maastricht Study
  • Imaging biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Imaging genetics in psychiatry
  • Microvascular imaging and cerebrovascular health
  • Structural and functional imaging in epilepsy
  • High-resolution imaging and deep brain stimulation
  • High-resolution imaging of brainstem nuclei
  • High-field MRI in Parkinson’s disease
  • Real-time fMRI and neuro-feedback in psychiatry and neuro-rehabilitation

Research and Impact

The work on imaging biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease is embedded in international efforts to improve early detection of dementia and preventative interventions. The work on cerebrovascular imaging has already led to improvement in the management of stroke patients and is going to being extended to other, more chronic pathologies. The analysis of neuroimaging data from the Maastricht Study has highlighted the impact that diabetes, even in its early stages, can have on brain structure and function. Moving towards therapeutic applications, neuroimaging is essential to guide and fine-tune deep brain stimulation. Development of potential new therapeutic applications through brain self-regulation training and using neuro-feedback are on our research agenda. These research topics are closely aligned with the neuro-modulation theme of MHeNs.