By Monika L. Ignacak
Advances in neuroscience and dynamic growth of 3D imaging create environment for development of unique technologies that allow studying the human brain complexity. One of the questions technology could help to solve is localization of brain wave sources, especially those located deep in the cortex.
Cerebral Diagnostics Canada Inc., Ontario-based start-up company, presented at OCE Discovery 2011 an innovative real-time brain imaging system. Dr. Mark Doidge and Dr. Joseph Mocanu combined conventional electroencephalograph (EEG) with Dynamic Electrical Cortical Imaging (DECI), the eLORETA algorithm based software, to transform EEG signals into colour 3D movies that display changing electrical activity of the core brain as well as fields where these activities are generated.
In comparison to already existing brain imaging technologies like MRI, CT or PET, the new technology is inexpensive and fast. DECI takes over 2000 images per second whereas other systems require seconds or even minutes for a single image. This allows capturing and distinguishing between fine events occurring in brain that are presented as one by other technologies. Comparing with MEG, the system measuring magnetic activity of the brain, DECI is more dynamic and about 400 times cheaper. DECI is non-invasive, uses no radioactive isotopes and does not require special facility to operate.
Understanding what helps people to be restored is very important these days, since unrested people are less productive and efficient at work. Cerebral Diagnostics Canada Inc. is developing collaboration with Dr. Colin Shapiro from Toronto Western Hospital’s sleep clinic, where DECI system will be tested in studies focused on restorative sleep. The unique feature of DECI, the ability of presenting fine details of brain activity in a form of 3D movie, in combination with high temporal and reasonably good spatial resolution, could help to answer the question whether deep sleep consists of one or two stages. Scientists would like to know if delta waves, waves characteristic for deep sleep phase, originate from the same or different locations in the brain. Existence of two wave sources would suggest difference in function. Currently, the DECI system is the only that have the potential to answer this question.
Research aimed on deepening our knowledge about brain waves, as well as studies on sleep, could also help with better understanding the basics of neurological disorders associated with disruptions in delta wave activity, such as dementia or schizophrenia, and in future lead to new treatment development.
Monika L. Ignacak has Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and experience in molecular neuroscience and molecular biology of steroid hormones from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences and the University of Cincinnati. Currently she works at the RIC Center, where she is involved in developing effective data organizing system.