Mātai News

New Ultra-High Contrast MRI Technique Reveals Hidden Brain Damage in Concussion

Nearly half of the world’s population experience a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)/concussion at some point in their lives. Recent findings using a new Ultra-High Contrast (UHC) MRI technique, divided subtracted inversion recovery (dSIR), are a major leap forward in the ability to detect and understand the underlying changes to the brain after traumatic injury.


A Mātai paper demonstrates the technique’s effectiveness. A patient with recurrent mTBI showed very extensive high contrast abnormalities in white matter of the brain using a dSIR sequence despite the brain appearing normal with conventional state-of-the-art MRI sequences. The conventional sequences grossly underestimated the extent of the damage to the brain. The changes are probably due to neuroinflammation. The findings are invaluable for correctly directing rehabilitation. The UHC technique may have application in a wide range of other diseases as well, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple sclerosis (MS), tumours, and long Covid, in which conventional MRI scans of the white matter of the brain appear normal. The Mātai technique is now being implemented at leading hospitals around the world.

Left image: Brain scan comparison with healthy person and a patient with mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)


This image on the left shows a person with no brain injury, and on the right, an age-matched person who has experienced repeated mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). Using the new ‘Ultra-High Contrast’ MRI method called ‘dSIR’, the healthy brain areas typically appear very dark or gray (left). These darker areas represent healthy white matter, which helps different parts of the brain communicate effectively.


On the right, the brain scans of the mTBI patient show several bright spots, indicating areas where the white matter has been affected by injuries. These changes are spread widely across the brain, contrasting sharply with the few small dark spots that show remaining healthy areas. This difference highlights the impact of repeated injuries on brain structure, making it harder to distinguish between different brain regions compared to the clear boundaries seen in the healthy brain on the left.

Gil Newburn 1, Dr Josh McGeown 1,2, Dr Eryn Kwon 1,2,3, Dr Maryam Tayebi 1,2, Paul Condron 1,2, Taylor Emsden 1, Samantha Holdsworth 1,2, Daniel Cornfeld 1,2, Graeme M Bydder 1,4.


  1. Mātai Medical Research Institute, Tairāwhiti-Gisborne, New Zealand
  2. Department of Anatomy & Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences & Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  3. Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Auckland, New Zealand
  4. Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA