Vision Statement Interacting Brain

Britton Chance, University of Pennsylvania, and Kyung A. Kang, University of Louisville

Brain functional studies are currently performed by several instruments, most having limitations at this time. PET and SPECT use labeled glucose as an indicator of metabolic activity; however, they may not be used within a short time interval and also can be expensive. MRI is a versatile brain imaging technique, but is highly unlikely to be "wearable." MEG is an interesting technology to measure axon-derived currents with a high accuracy at a reasonable speed; this still requires minimal external magnetic fields, and a triply shielded micro-metal cage is required for the entire subject. While thermography has some advantages, the penetration is very small, and the presence of overlying tissues is a great problem. Many brain responses during cognitive activities may be recognized in terms of changes in blood volume and oxygen saturation at the brain part responsible. Since hemoglobin is a natural and strong optical absorber, changes in this molecule can be monitored by near infrared (NIR) detection method very effectively without applying external contrast agents (Chance, Kang, and Sevick 1993). NIR can monitor not only the blood volume changes (the variable that most of the currently used methods are measuring) but also hemoglobin saturation (the variable that provides the actual energy usage) (Chance, Kang, and Sevick 1993;Hoshe et al. 1994; Chance et al 1998). Among the several brain imagers, the "NIR Cognoscope" (Figure C.8) is one of a few that have wearability (Chance et al. 1993; Luo, nioka, and Chance 1996; Chance et al 1998). Also, with fluorescent-labeled neuroreceptors or metabolites (such as glucose), the optical method will have a similar capability for metabolic activities as PET and SPECT (Kang et al. 1998).

Nanotechnology and information technology (IT) can be invaluable for the development of future optical cognitive instruments. Nano-biomarkers targeted for cerebral function representing biomolecules will enable us to pinpoint the areas responsible for various cognitive activities as well as to diagnose various brain disorders. Nano-sized sources and detectors operated by very long lasting nano-sized batteries will be also very useful for unobstructed studies of brain function. It is important to acknowledge that in the process of taking cognitive function measurements, the instrument itself or the person who conducts the measurements should not (or should minimally) interfere with or distract the subject's cognitive activities. The ultimate optical system for cognitive studies, therefore, requires wireless instrumentation.

It is envisioned that once nanotech and IT are fully incorporated into the optical instrumentation, the sensing unit will be very lightweight, disposable Band-aid™ sensor/detector applicators or hats (or helmets) having no external connection. Stimuli triggering various cognitive activities can be given through a computer screen or visor with incorporating a virtual reality environment. Signal acquisition will be accomplished by telemetry and will be analyzed in real time. The needed feedback stimulus can also be created, depending on the nature of the analysis needed for further tests or treatments. Some of the important future applications of the kind of "cognoscope" described above are as follows:

1. Medical diagnosis of brain diseases (Chance, Kang, and Sevick 1993)

2. Identification of children with learning disabilities (Chance et al. 1993; Hoshe et al. 1994; Chance et al. 1998)

3. Assessment of effectiveness in teaching techniques (Chance et al. 1993; Hoshe et al. 1994; Heekeren et al. 1997; Chance et al. 1998)

4. Applications for cognitive science — study of the thinking process (Chance et al. 1993; Hoshe et al. 1994; Chance et al. 1998)

5. Localization of brain sites responding for various stimuli (Gratton et al. 1995; Luo, Nioka, and Chance 19997; Heekeren et al. 1997; Villringer and Chance 1997)

6. Identification of the emotional state of a human being

7. Communicating with others without going through currently used sensory systems

Figure C.8. A schematic diagram of the future NIR Cognosope. (a) A wireless, hat-like multiple source-

detector system can be used for brain activities while the stimulus can be given though a visor-like interactive device. While a subject can be examined (or tested) in a room (room I) without any disturbance by examiners or other non-cognitive stimuli, the examiner can obtain the cognitive response through wireless transmission, analyze the data in real-time, and also may be able to additional stimuli to the subjects for further tests, in another room (room II).

Chance, B., Anday, E., Nioka, S., Zhou, S., Hong, L., Worden, K., Li, C., Overtsky, Y., Pidikiti, D., and Thomas, R., 1998. "A Novel Method for Fast Imaging of Brain Function, Noninvasively, with Light." Optical Express, 2(10): 411-423.

Chance, B., Kang, K.A., and Sevick, E., 1993. "Photon Diffusion in Breast and Brain: Spectroscopy and Imaging," Optics and Photonics News, 9-13.3.

Chance, B., Zhuang, Z., Chu, U., Alter, C., and Lipton, L., 1993. "Cognition Activated Low Frequency Modulation of Light Absorption in Human Brain," PNAS, 90: 2660-2774.

Gratton, G., Corballis, M., Cho, E., Gabiani, M., and Hood, D.C., 1995. "Shades of Gray Matter: Non-invasiveNoninvasive Optical Images of Human Brain Responses during Visual Stimulations," Psychophysiology, 32: 505-509.

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