Hair Brush Reads Your Mind

A hair brush that reads your mind will be presented at the Optical Society's (OSA) 94th annual meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2010, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y.. It uses functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure oxygen levels in the brain to chart neurological activity.


(Brush optrode)

"Using light to measure a person's thinking pattern has numerous advantages over EEGs, including ease of use, reliability, cost, portability and MRI compatibility," says Duncan MacFarlane, professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas.

"The conventional fibers used in fNIRS systems terminate in a large, flat bundle, and it is easy for a patient's hair to get in the way and block the signal," he explains. "So we developed a new tip for the fNIRS fibers -- a brush optrode that slides the fibers between the hair follicles. Signal levels increase 3- to 5-fold, and patients report that the brush optrode is considerably more comfortable than the conventional fiber ends. And the brush optrode is easier to set up, which saves time and money."

This advance is expected to open the door to portable, easy-to-use, high-density optical scanning of brain activity. This technology could be used to imaging of changes in cortical plasticity as a function of impairment severity in children with cerebral palsy, for example.

Or, it could be sold as a consumer device. Like the recreational cephscope (short for cephalochromoscope) from Philip K. Dick's 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly.

...his Altec cephalochromoscope, around which he had built the pleasure part of his schedule, the segment of the day in which they all relaxed and got mellow....
(Read more about Dick's cephscope)

The presentation, "Improved fNIRS Using a Novel Brush Optrode" is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, October 26th.

Via Eurekalert

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/21/2010)

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