Brain Imaging With Pulsed Laser Light

Researchers struggle to detect cognition accurately. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is currently used to measure brain activity. However, this method necessitates the patient lying still in a large, noisy, expensive apparatus. A portable and noninvasive brain imaging method is required to understand how the brain works.

A group of scientists has created a high-performance brain imaging method to monitor cerebral blood flow more precisely than ever. The brain regulates blood flow differently depending on the mental and physical tasks a person performs. Researchers would gain insight into cognition by accurately mapping cerebral blood flow with a portable system.

This new technique, known as time-domain diffuse correlation spectroscopy (TD-DCS), works by sending laser light to and from the brain via fiber optics. The method will be integrated into a system that looks like a cap and has 64 transmissions and 192 receive points organized into groups called optodes that are spaced 1 centimeter apart to cover nearly the entire scalp. Light diffuses from each optode’s transmitter, bounces off hemoglobin in red blood cells, and returns to several surrounding receivers.

Blood cells constantly move, and the faster they move, the faster the intensity of the returning light signal varies. Researchers can use the rate of that fluctuation to calculate blood flow velocity.

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