February 6, 2024

Understanding the Brain’s Reward System through Advanced Imaging Technique

Advanced imaging technology is enabling us to answer critical questions as we strive to understand disease pathophysiology and inform the clinical development of new medical treatments. Here, we review how Calyx Medical Imaging is providing valuable insights intended to help researchers further understand the mechanisms in the brain that are associated with addictive behavior.

Calyx is delivering expertise in imaging within a clinical trial framework along with our partner, Ceretype Neuromedicine, Inc. to help researchers further understand the brain’s reward system through functional MRI (fMRI). The study we are currently working on aims to map out how brain mechanisms differ between people with addictive behaviors and those without and how that deviation will change over time with medication.

fMRI enables us to study neuronal activity as well as functional connectivity across the entire brain. This approach demonstrates that when nerve cells are active in certain areas of the brain, there’s an increase in blood flow to those areas, resulting in measurable changes. Moreover, if multiple brain regions are activated simultaneously, they are assumed to have a strong functional connectivity among them. Hence, fMRI allows us to look at activity within and connectivity among those brain regions responsible for mediating the physiological and cognitive processing of reward. Addiction treatments may target these regions associated with the brain’s reward network.

Participants’ brain activity can be captured while at rest or while observing images of items that depict addictions, as well as images of less addictive and/or unrelated items. Further analyses of MR images reveal the differences in brain activity and connectivity of those who are addicted compared to healthy participants. The same approach can be employed to investigate the objective change as a response to addiction treatment.

Historically, due to the complexity of image acquisition and analysis, fMRI has not been successfully used within the clinical trial framework. However, by combining Ceretype’s proven capabilities in acquiring high-quality data with a high signal-to-noise ratio and innovative data analysis pipelines with Calyx’s scientific and operational expertise, it is possible to obtain statistically significant results illustrating possible treatment effects.

Contact us to learn about Calyx Medical Imaging’s expertise and how our advanced solutions and services can help you optimize clinical trial imaging and meet your clinical development objectives.



Elif Sikoglu, PhD, Sr. Medical Director, Calyx

Alice Motovylyak, PhD, Principal Scientist, Calyx

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