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Portable PET Scanners

February 17, 2017

A PET scanner in a helmet reveals the standing and walking brain.



Studying the brain in motion. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

PET scanning is a valuable way to study the brain, because it shows not just structures, but also brain activity while performing a task. But the machines are bulky and don’t allow patients to engage in most tasks, like standing, balancing or walking. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, West Virginia University researcher Julie Brefczynski-Lewis described a compact version of the device worn like a helmet. It’s still tethered to bulky equipment, but it allows patients to move around.

JULIE BREFCZYNSKI-LEWIS  (West Virginia University):

And we’ve been able to image several patients walking in place and we’re about to commence studies on walking forward.


Eventually, more portable PET scans could reveal how the brain functions in a variety of physical activities and social interactions. And that could lead to better diagnoses and treatments of cognitive and motor disorders. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon