A new type of wearable brain scanner is revealing new possibilities for understanding and diagnosing mental illness after the technology has been expanded to scan the whole brain with millimeter accuracy.
Scientists from the University of Nottingham developed an initial prototype of a new generation of brain scanner in 2018 which is a lightweight device that can be worn on the head like a hat, and can scan the brain even whilst a patient moves. Their latest research has now expanded this to a fully functional 49 channel device that can be used to scan the whole brain and track electrophysiological processes that are implicated in a number of mental health problems. Their findings have been published in Neuroimage.
Understanding mental illness remains one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. From childhood illnesses such as Autism, to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, human brain health affects millions of people throughout the lifespan. In many cases, even highly detailed brain images showing what the brain looks like fail to tell us about underlying pathology, and consequently there is an urgent need for new technologies to measure what the brain actually does in health and disease.
Brain cells operate and communicate by producing electrical currents. These currents generate tiny magnetic fields that can be detected outside the head. Researchers use MEG to map brain function by measuring these magnetic fields. This allows for a millisecond-by-millisecond picture of which parts of the brain are engaged when we undertake different tasks, such as speaking or moving.
Unlike the large cumbersome scanners where patients must remain very still, the wearable scanner allows the patient to move freely. The early prototype of this system in 2018 had just 13 sensors and could only scan limited sections of the brain. Further developments in 2019 enabled the first measurements in children.
The team worked with Added Scientific in Nottingham to develop a novel type of 3D printed helmet, which is key to the function of the 49 channel device. The higher channel count means that the system can be used to scan the whole brain. It can show the brain areas controlling hand movement and vision pinpointed with millimetre accuracy.
Although there is exciting potential, OPM-MEG is a nascent technology with significant development still required. Whilst multi-channel systems are available, most demonstrations still employ small numbers of sensors sited over specific brain regions and the introduction of a whole-head array is an important step forward in moving this technology towards effective commercial application.
This new whole head scanner unlocks a hots of new possibilities, like scanning children (who find it hard to keep still) or scanning epileptic patients during seizures to understand the abnormal brain activity that generates those seizures.
Professor Brookes continues: “Our group in Nottingham, alongside partners at UCL, are now driving this research forward, not only to develop a new understanding of brain function, but also to commercialise the equipment that we have developed. Components of the scanner have already been sold, via industrial partners, to brain imaging laboratories across the world. It is thought that not only will the new scanner be significantly better than anything that currently exists, but also that it will be significantly cheaper.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- New Innovator Award winner looking for unprecedented view of the brainon October 6, 2020 at 8:35 am
Aviad Hai is developing injectable, wireless electronics that could offer a global look at the electrical activity of the brain without the need for surgical procedures.
- Mapping the subcortex, the most ancient part of the brainon October 6, 2020 at 4:44 am
The most evolutionarily ancient part of our brain is the part that we know the least about. The human subcortex is located deep in the brain's center and processes everything from our basic senses to ...
- ‘My Brain’s Not as Sharp’: Covid Woes Stalk Workers Back on Jobon October 6, 2020 at 2:27 am
My brain’s not as sharp as it used to be, I don’t think.” Millions of people could be dealing with medical issues including heart, kidney and lung damage long after the pandemic subsides. With no ...
- Your dog’s brain doesn’t care about your faceon October 5, 2020 at 10:08 am
Comparing brain scans of people and pups shows that faces hold no special meaning to the brains of dogs, a new study suggests.
- This Woman Found Out She Had Tapeworm Larvae in Her Brain After Suffering Painful Headacheson October 5, 2020 at 10:07 am
A woman in Australia found out tapeworm larvae were living in her brain, which likely caused the regular headaches she suffered for 7 years. Find out more here.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Whole head scanner
- History in 3D: U of T researchers piece together the past with new scanning technologieson October 5, 2020 at 1:11 pm
As director of the Tayinat archaeological project in Turkey, Tim Harrison saw the need and potential for 3D scanning and modelling technology. Harrison, chair of the University of Toronto’s department ...
- Maryland gets earliest start in nation to count mail-in ballotson October 1, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Usually, the canvass of absentee ballots begins on the Wednesday after Election Day. But this year, the mail-in vote count got a 30-day head start in Maryland. Anne Arundel County is one of the local ...
- My five-year-old boy's brain cancer was written off as FLU: Mother tells of agony after medics repeatedly sent son home with paracetamol before head scan revealed it was too lateon September 30, 2020 at 5:18 am
Homans, from Tipton in the West Midlands, died in his mother Deb Stead's arms on September 13 after a heartbreaking nine-month battle with cancer.
- Want to Decode the Human Brain? There’s a New System for That, and It’s Pretty Wildon September 22, 2020 at 8:10 am
But what stopped people in their tracks and made them stare was a bizarre headgear, tightly strapped to his head through a swimming cap-like ... Movement may seem like a trivial addition to brain ...
- Iris Scans, Hydroponics And Blockchain: How Innovation Is Helping Fight Global Hungeron September 22, 2020 at 3:54 am
A Syrian woman pays for groceries using an iris scan at Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan ... way out of hunger,” says Bernhard Kowatsch, head of the WFP’s Innovation Accelerator.