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A wearable brain scanner

May. 25, 2023.
1 min. read Interactions

Opens up brain scanning for neurological problems that affect movement, like Parkinson’s disease, stroke and concussion

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Amara Angelica

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Amara Angelica is Senior Editor of Mindplex

Researchers at the University of Nottingham’s School of Physics in the UK have developed a breakthrough method for understanding and diagnosing a range of neurological problems that affect movement, such as Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and concussion.

The device uses small LEGO-brick-sized sensors called “optically pumped magnetometers” (MEG). These are incorporated into a lightweight magnetometer (MEG) helmet to measure magnetic fields generated by cellular activity in the brain. It requires a special magnetically shielded room (shown in image above) that contains additional equipment that allows precise control of magnetic fields at a level 50,000 times smaller than the Earth’s magnetic field.

The wearable system has been installed in a number of research institutions across the globe. The applications span a huge area, from basic neuroscientific questions like how do young children learn to walk, to clinical challenges like why are older people prone to falling, according to the researchers.

Citation: Holmes, N., Rea, M., Hill, R. M., Leggett, J., Edwards, L. J., Hobson, P. J., Boto, E., Tierney, T. M., Rier, L., Rivero, G. R., Shah, V., Osborne, J., Fromhold, T. M., Glover, P., Brookes, M. J., & Bowtell, R. (2023). Enabling ambulatory movement in wearable magnetoencephalography with matrix coil active magnetic shielding. NeuroImage, 274, 120157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2023.120157 (open-access)

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