Neurodegenerative diseases represent one of the most prevalent health problems worldwide. Their complex nature requires multidisciplinary investigation approaches. In this field, combining X-ray advanced micro-imaging techniques, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and new analysis algorithms could become a significant tool for pre-clinical research and potentially for clinical routine.
High-resolution imaging techniques can allow a direct quantitative estimation of important morphological and topological parameters characterizing the vascular and neuronal networks in the spinal cord, contributing to the comprehension of the BOLD contrast in this area of the central nervous system. In particular, accurate modelling of the biophysical origin of the BOLD contrast requires a degree of spatial information that X-ray phase-contrast tomography can easily reach.  
Potentially, the knowledge acquired on small rodents can be exploited to better understand the physiology of human spinal cord and the relevant pathologies. Similar approaches can be instrumental for the application in the clinical practice of non-invasive techniques, like fMRI, that have the potential of contributing to the development of new treatments for serious pathologies.
This projects is based on the long-standing collaboration with TOMALab of the CNR-Nanotec (Rome) that has considerable expertise on the X ray phase contrast tomography imaging technique and on the pertinent imaging algorithms.