A new £2.3 million imaging centre with cutting-edge scanning technology has been opened by a Nobel Prize winner at a university.
The Birmingham University Imaging Centre houses high quality magnetic resonance imaging equipment that can provide detailed scans of the human heart and brain, as well as devices which can m easure eye and limb movement.
Professor Sir Peter Mansfield, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2003 for his pioneering work in magnetic imaging, attended the launch of the new centre.
The facility's centrepiece is a 3 Tesla MRI scanner, which can also be used to monitor how the brain responds to small movements. It is currently being used to investigate how the brain reacts to visual stimulus, leading to word recognition and reading.
A team of psychologists at the university are using it to establish how the brain learns new tasks which require eye and hand co-ordination, such as controlling a cursor or mouse on a computer.
Professor Glyn Humphreys, the centre's director, said: "Over the last 30 years MRI has become an extremely important tool for a whole host of scientists interested in the brain's functions.
"We hope that having these facilities will help bring researchers from a wide range of different fields, who can benefit from high quality MRI images. To get volunteers used to having an MRI scan, we have also installed a full size mock up of the main scanner, which gets people acclimatised to being in a confined space before they have a scan."
The university's department of cardiovascular medicine will use the technology to better understand the physiology of heart failure and to develop and evaluate new therapies for heart failure and other heart diseases.
Michael Frenneaux, a British Heart Foundation Professor in Cardiology, said: "MRI has the capacity to evaluate not only cardiac function and blood flow but the 'energy status' of the heart.
"This makes the new scan-ner a particularly useful tool in our work looking at the role of energetic impairment in heart muscle diseases and the effects of therapies aimed at correcting this."