Voltage and the Electron Volt

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    MR responded:
    July 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    New Invasive Imaging Technique Devised to Monitor Brain Function

    Posted on 09 Jul 2012

    New technology employs an innovative way to track brain function and help in functional mapping of patients with disorders such as epilepsy.

    The procedure includes the use of preplaced electrodes for cortical mapping in the brains of patients who are undergoing surgery to lessen the frequency of seizures. This technique, although invasive, provides real-time examination of brain function at a much higher resolution than existing technologies.

    The video article was published July 2012 in the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). Typically, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) are used in neuroimaging studies but these techniques suffer from low temporal and spatial resolution. By using electrodes implanted in the brain of an epileptic patient already undergoing treatment, scientists can now image the brain with a much higher spatial resolution, lower signal interference, and a higher temporal resolution than fMRI or EEG.

    The leading author of the study, Dr. Gerwin Schalk, from the New York State Department of Health (Albany, NY, USA) and Albany Medical College (New York, NY, USA), stated, “Essentially, we have created a new imaging technique. Our procedure is innovative because it is prospective, meaning, it can image brain function as it occurs. Moreover, it does not require an expert to derive meaningful information concerning brain function.”

    Dr. Schalk also remarked that it was crucial for this procedure to be demonstrated in a video format. “The procedure is a very visual process. The ancillary information such as the spatial relationships of different components, the set-up of the hospital room, and the set-up of the equipment itself cannot be represented in a typical print article. The video capacities of JoVE were an excellent vehicle to demonstrate both the general set-up and the specific implementation of the mapping system.”

    By relying on an epileptic patient’s neural implants, scientists can gain extraordinary clues into the brain’s function. Dr. Schalk’s procedure provides a technologic advance that can be utilized in many applications, including stroke patient monitoring and rehabilitation, signal mapping, and transduction for movement of prosthetic limbs, and enhancement of communication in individuals with paralysis of the vocal musculature.

    JoVE editor, Dr. Claire Standen, stressed, “The new imaging technique demonstrated in this article is very important. There is a definite need for better, more accurate, imaging to monitor brain function. This technique can be applied to a wide range of clinical areas within the neuroscience field.”

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