Brain scanner in a helmet developed by scientists

Brain scanner in a helmet developed by scientists

A lightweight  brain imaging device that can be worn as a helmet has been developed by British scientists. It allows the patient to move about naturally, Reuters reports.

Patients were able to stretch, nod and even drink tea or play table tennis while their brain activity was being recorded by the agnetoencephalography (MEG) system. 

Results from tests of the scanner were published in the journal Nature.

Researchers hope the new scanner would improve research and treatment for patients who can’t use traditional fixed MEG scanners, such as children with epilepsy, babies, or patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Current MEG scanners are cumbersome and weigh as much as half a tonne because the sensors they use to measure the brain’s magnetic field need to be kept very cold - at minus 269 degrees Celsius, said Gareth Barnes, a professor at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Neuroimaging at University College London, who co-led the work. They also run into difficulties when patients are unable to stay very still. 

In the new helmet scanner  the researchers use quantum sensors. They are lightweight, work at room temperature and can be placed directly onto scalp, thus increasing the amount of signal they are able to pick up.

Also, the wearable scanner offers new possibilities in measuring peoples’ brain function during real world tasks and social interactions, the scientific teams reports.