Mind

First Fish, Now Cheese, Get Scanned

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticApr 12, 2011 12:15 PM

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Here at Neuroskeptic we have closelyfollowed the development of fMRI scanning on fish.

But a new study has taken it to the next level by scanning... some cheese.

OK, this is not quite true. The study used NMR spectroscopy to analyze the chemistry of some cheeses, in order to measure the effects of different kinds of probiotic bacteria on the composition of the cheese. NMR is the same technology as MRI, and indeed you can use an MRI scanner to gather NMR spectra.

In fact, NMR is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging; it was originally called NMRI, but they dropped the "N" because people didn't like the idea of being scanned by a "nuclear" machine. However, this study didn't actually involve putting cheese into an MRI scanner.

But the important point is that they could have done it by doing that. And if you did that, what with the salmon and now the cheese, you could get a nice MRI-based meal going. All we need is for someone to scan some vegetables, some herbs, and a slice of lemon, and we'd have a delicious dataset. Mmm.

How to cook it? Well, it's actually possible to heat stuff up with an MRI scanner. When scanning people, you set it up to make sure this doesn't happen, but the average fMRI experiment still causes mild heating. It's unavoidable.

I'm not sure what the maximum possible heating effect of an average MRI scanner would be. I doubt anyone has gone out of their way to try and maximize it, but maybe someone ought to look into it. Think of the possibilites.

You've just finished a hard day's scanning and you're really hungry, but the microwave at the MRI building is broken. Not to worry! Just pop your fillet of salmon in probiotic cheese sauce in the magnet, and scan it 'till it's done. You could inspect the images and the chemical composition of the meal before you eat it, to make sure it's just right.

Just make sure you don't use a steel saucepan...

Rodrigues D, Santos CH, Rocha-Santos TA, Gomes AM, Goodfellow BJ, & Freitas AC (2011). Metabolic Profiling of Potential Probiotic or Synbiotic Cheeses by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry PMID: 21443163

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