Imaging baby brains made easy with new wearable technology

November 26, 2020
Imaging baby brains made easy with new wearable technology

Studying the infant brain is no easy task, especially working with MRI machines, since the subjects wiggle around a lot and are easily distracted. Novel technology for imaging the brains of infants and babies is hoped to provide a solution to this problem – a team of UK scientists and engineers from University College London (UCL) have presented wearable caps to safely map changes in baby brain activity.

The caps have been specially-designed with high-density diffuse optical tomography technology (HD-DOT) by UCL spinoff company Gowerlabs. Part of the HD-DOT technology, modular hexagonal tiles on the cap called LUMO tiles, use near-infrared light to detect changes in brain oxygenation and determines which parts of the brain are actively working in real-time.

Imaging baby brains made easy with new wearable technology

The HD-DOT system was tested on six-month old babies and found to be incredibly effective: “The approach we have demonstrated is safe, silent and wearable, and can produce images of brain function with better spatial resolution than any other comparable technology,” said Elisabetta Maria Frijia, UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering.

“Our hope is that this new generation of technologies will allow researchers from a whole range of fields to learn more about how the healthy infant brain develops and establish new ways of diagnosing, monitoring and ultimately treating neurological conditions like autism and cerebral palsy.”

Read: Therapeutic bed helps prevent brain damage in preemies

The HD-DOT technology is a dramatic improvement from the currently available functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) imaging; it is said to “demonstrate superior spatial localisation, improved depth specificity, higher SNR [signal-to-noise ratio] and improved consistency of the responses across participants – it is also well-tolerated by the infant population.”

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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