Simultaneous PET/MR/EEG (Positron Emission Tomography – Magnetic Resonance – Electroencephalography), a new tool for the investigation of neuronal networks in the human brain, is presented here within the framework of the European Union Project TRIMAGE. The trimodal, cost-effective PET/MR/EEG imaging tool makes use of cutting edge technology both in PET and in MR fields. A novel type of magnet (1.5T, non-cryogenic) has been built together with a PET scanner that makes use of the most advanced photodetectors (i.e., SiPM matrices), scintillators matrices (LYSO) and digital electronics. The combined PET/MR/EEG system is dedicated to brain imaging and has an inner diameter of 260 mm and an axial Field-of-View of 160 mm.
It enables the acquisition and assessment of molecular metabolic information with high spatial and temporal resolution in a given brain simultaneously. The dopaminergic system and the glutamatergic system in schizophrenic patients are investigated via PET, the same physiological/pathophysiological conditions with regard to functional connectivity, via fMRI, and its electrophysiological signature via EEG. In addition to basic neuroscience questions addressing neurovascular-metabolic coupling, this new methodology lays the foundation for individual physiological and pathological fingerprints for a wide research field addressing healthy aging, gender effects, plasticity and different psychiatric and neurological diseases.
The preliminary performances of two components of the imaging tool (PET and MR) are discussed. Initial results of the search of possible candidates for suitable schizophrenia biomarkers are also presented as obtained with PET/MR systems available to the collaboration.