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E. Non-invasive Methods Gauge How Substance Abuse Affects the Brain

Narrator: This is Science Today. Magnetic resonance imaging and another method called magnetic resonance spectroscopy have been helping researchers non-invasively study the brain to better understand its functioning in a variety of circumstances. Dieter Meyerhoff, a radiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, has been using these methods to study how the brain is affected by alcohol abuse and recovery from alcohol.

Meyerhoff: We're also looking at how alcohol itself interacts with the damage that is done by either HIV infection or substance abuse.

Narrator: Overall, Meyerhoff says the big question they're asking is how substance abuse affects the brain and how does it interact with other problems.

Meyerhoff: And that is a big problem doing what we call pure alcohol research - finding patients who have abused nothing else than alcohol. There is a lot of other abuse occurring at the same time and very often, there are many other disorders that we need to rule out if we want to look at the pure effects of alcohol.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.