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Mind & Brain

Your brain ‘wiggles’ a little with every heartbeat

Looking for a heartbeat? Advances in the MRI field can now show you.
Saturday Night Fever, crudely photoshopped by the author

The human heartbeat. Pretty much everyone has one, and many kickass songs have been written about its existence. It may come to you as a surprise, then, that your heart and brain are currently doing something you didn’t know it was doing before: dancing together with every heartbeat.


Well, it’s more of a wiggle. And it’s hardly Mambo Number 5. . . it’s a very slight wiggle. Barely detectable, but happens when cerebrospinal fluid gets pumped up the spine. Take a look for yourself, thanks to researchers at the University of Auckland and Stanford University:

University of Auckland, Stanford University

It’s detected by a special MRI called amplified MRI, that can show the movement better than regular MRIs can. Researchers could use this data on the brain wiggling to help create better helmets, and even go as far to potentially spot future aneurysms.

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Cardiac gating during MRIs is nothing new, but amplified MRIs take what is cardiac gating tries to avoid (i.e., and I’m paraphrasing HUGELY here, but cardiac gating is done to prevent a blurred MRI) and record the full thing in detail. Still want another analogy? Regular MRIs are 480p resolution, and amplified MRIs are 4K.


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