A Safe New Scanner Can View Two-Thirds of the Brain's Surface at Once

A new optical brain scanner doesn't use radiation or super magnets, but uses safe light beams to penetrate the brain.
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A new optical brain scanner doesn't use radiation or super magnets, but uses safe light beams to penetrate the brain.
brain scanner

Photo Credit: WUSTL

Diffuse Optical Tomography (DOT) is a new optical brain scanner that can view two-thirds of the brain's surface at once, without using radiation or super magnets. The new technology will be helpful to brain researchers as it can detect multi-regional events, such as language processing or introspection. 

brain scanner

Photo Credit: WUSTL

DOT works by looking for changes in color and the intensity of light beams to detect oxygenation. Joseph Culver, senior author of the study, says the process is similar to seeing blood rush to your cheeks when you are embarrassed. In the case of brain function, DOT can detect anything from complex thought to lust. 

Using the light beams to penetrate the brain is said to be incapable of causing damage, because the machine uses non-ionizing radiation. 

Currently, DOT can see about one centimeter into the brain, but is able to cover most higher brain functions. The new scanner may be used for children or people with implants, basically those who cannot use conventional scans easily.