Positron emission tomography (PET) and graphical kinetic data analysis of the dopamine neurotransmitter system: An exercise for an undergraduate laboratory course

Martine M. Mirrione, Nora Ruth, David Alexoff, Jean Logan, Joanna Fowler, Maurice Kernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neuroimaging techniques, including positron emission tomography (PET), are widely used in clinical settings and in basic neuroscience research. Education in these methods and their applications may be incorporated into curricula to keep pace with this expanding field. Here, we have developed pedagogical materials on the fundamental principles of PET that incorporate a hands-on laboratory activity to view and analyze human brain scans. In this activity, students will use authentic PET brain scans generated from original research at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Volkow et al., 2009) to explore the neurobiological effects of a drug on the dopamine system. We provide lecture and assignment materials (including a 50-minute PowerPoint presentation introducing PET concepts), written background information for students and instructors, and explicit instructions for a 4-hour, computer-based laboratory to interested educators. Also, we discuss our experience implementing this exercise as part of an advanced undergraduate laboratory course at Stony Brook University in 2010 and 2011. Observing the living human brain is intriguing, and this laboratory is designed to illustrate how PET neuroimaging techniques are used to directly probe biological processes occurring in the living brain. Laboratory course modules on imaging techniques such as PET can pique the interest of students potentially interested in neuroscience careers, by exposing them to current research methods. This activity provides practical experience analyzing PET data using a graphical analysis method known as the Logan plot, and applies core neuropharmacology concepts. We hope that this manuscript inspires college instructors to incorporate education in PET neuroimaging into their courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A114-A122
JournalJournal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education
Volume12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Addiction
  • Binding potential
  • Cocaine
  • College
  • Dissociation constant
  • Distribution volume ratio (DVR)
  • Dopamine
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Education
  • Human
  • Imaging
  • Integrative
  • Interactive learning
  • Laboratory course
  • Logan plot
  • Modafinil
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Pharmacology
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Raclopride
  • Radiotracer
  • Teaching

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