Updated on 22 May 2014
Optical brain scanning is radiation free and can detect, even the minute functional changes of the brain
Singapore: Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine, have been extensively working on the concept of using radiation free optical imaging for brain scans. The technology called neuroimaging, uses the new diffuse optical tomography (DOT) instrument, that covers two-thirds of the head and for the first time and can image brain processes, taking place in multiple regions along with brain networks involved in language processing and self-reflection.
The study is based on the principle of detecting the highly oxygenated blood that flows to the parts of the brain, where neuronal activity increases. The optical absorption of hemoglobin can then be studied and the dynamic changes in the color of brain tissue could be captured.
DOT procedure has varied medical applications and can also act as surrogates for MRI scanning or positron emission tomography (PET), which uses radiation for imaging the brain. Since DOT procedure is radiation free, it can be used to scan the brain multiple times to observe the healing in brain injuries or developmental disorders such as autism and Parkinson's disease.
The DOT procedure is optimally suited for children and patients with implants such as pace makers or cochlear implants as the safety of the devices is maintained in the optical procedure as compared to the functional MRI scans. The advantages mainly include the sensitivity of light to detect minute functional changes of the brain through its property of fluorescence and absorption and hence can help in imaging a wide range of functional parameters.