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Sano PhD student Dominika Ciupek won prestigious scientific AGH competition

Dominika Ciupek’s thesis won the first prize in the category of applied science in prestigious scientific AGH competition “Diamenty AGH”. Dominika presented her thesis on “Mapping the properties of white matter pathways of the ageing brain using the diffusion magnetic resonance imaging” which she developed under supervision of Tomasz Pięciak, Ph.D. and Jaromir Przybyło, Ph.D. In Sano Dominika continues her research under supervision of professor Maciej Malawski in Extreme-scale Data and Computing Team and supervision of Tomasz Pięciak, PhD from Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación, Universidad de Valladolid (Spain).

Over the past decade Information technologies transformed the human brain anatomy research completely. Scientists and engineers are looking for new methods of precisions in mapping and understanding of the brain. Dominika’s work stands exactly in this line, it provides a new and more precise method of generation of virtual neuroarchitecture of the brain. The author synergized two existing solutions: one, based on diffusion tensor imaging and biophysical models and a qualitative approach based on diffusion tractography. The method proved itself by giving some important results in investigations of changes of the ageing brain.  

One of the findings is the fact that the nature of changes in different microstructural areas is not the same for all white matter pathways, but it remains similar for the same fiber bundles from the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This means that the corresponding regions of both hemispheres are characterized by a similar microstructure of the tissue, which is, however, different for individual areas. 

The second important finding of the author is the fact that changes in microstructural areas are non-linear in a wide range of ages. The average value of the parameters changes rapidly during adolescence and early adulthood, and after reaching the extreme, the rate of changes decreases. The trend changing point happens mainly between the ages of 25 and 35.  

However, fasciculus which were examined in the project, showed different rates of maturation and aging. Processes of maturation and aging first start in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, which is responsible for basic processes such as visual perception and face recognition. While the uncinate fasciculus, which is mainly involved in language functions, matures and ages later.   

Finally, the research showed that the trajectories of average changes in tissue parameters are most precisely reproduced by the Poisson model. Its usage in research on brain maturation and aging seems to be the most beneficial. 

In the era of the aging society no need to say that the research has an immense practical importance. We congratulate Dominika and wish her good luck in her investigations!   

Link to the page with the results of AGH competition “Diamenty AGH” 2023 (in Polish):