With this in mind, Munich Re has been keeping a watchful eye on medical trends and the advances made in pure research, maintaining close contacts with scientific experts – for instance with Professor John-Dylan Haynes from the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, who is conducting intensive studies into functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This is a further development of structural MRI and measures changes in blood flow in the various regions of the brain. This method allows functional brain processes to be represented in the form of cross-sectional image series and has the potential to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disorders of the central nervous system.
Advances in imaging
Evaluating chronic pain on the basis of brain activity measurements is problematic for another reason: a subject need only imagine the feeling of pain in order to produce the same brain activity as someone genuinely experiencing it. Even the symptoms of such fashionable mental disorders as burnout syndrome can be produced through autosuggestion alone. No studies have yet been conducted to investigate this phenomenon based on fMRI data.
Could brain research prevent large-scale disasters?
In this domain, neuroscience research findings are more likely to help us gain a better understanding of the processes in the brain – a knowledge which could, for example, be used to optimise working environments so as to prevent loss of concentration in the first place.
Altered states of consciousness caused by neuroenhancers create new risks
Neuroprostheses connect computer chips to the nervous system
What can we expect?
You can find a detailed version of this article and extensive background information in TOPICS magazine.