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Brain Light Roundup

September 7, 2007

A new technique using infrared light tests children for brain injuries and disorders.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Shedding light on the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Brain imaging devices can be noisy and scary to an infant or young child. Now researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they’ve developed a new method that uses silent and harmless beams of infrared light, emitted by a stretchy cap that a baby can wear. By analyzing the light as it scatters back, the device can map blood flow to different brain regions.

In other brain research news, scientists writing in the Journal of Neural Engineering describe a quick and painless new way to diagnose a variety of brain diseases, from Alzheimers to chronic alcoholism. Patients stare at a spot of light as an MEG, or magneto-encephalography device measures their brain’s magnetic fields every millisecond. The method correctly identified all the disorders, as well as healthy volunteers. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.