Patent number 8527035 is assigned to The Trustees of
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) portrays particular parts of the brain that are active during specific activities of a subject. For example, experiments have illustrated those parts of the brain that are most active while performing mental arithmetic, or while opening and clenching a hand. Some differences have been noted between activity patterns of the mentally ill and those of 'normal' subjects. fMRI operates by observing a coupled set of blood flow, volume and oxygenation changes in the brain, which are collectively termed the hemodynamic response. This hemodynamic response correlates with neuronal activity in the brain.
"While the spatial resolution of fMRI is good, fMRI requires the subject's head remain stationary between poles of a magnet in a large, bulky, sometimes noisy, and usually expensive machine throughout a study. The requirement of stable head position renders fMRI impractical as a way to observe patterns of brain activity during many activities of a subject such as--for illustration and not by limitation--walking on a treadmill or, even holding an animated conversation. Further, the expense and immobility of fMRI machines precludes routine clinical use of fMRI on patients of average wealth in diagnosis and treatment monitoring of such psychiatric and neurological disorders as schizophrenia, Parkinsonism, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, tumors, dementia, stroke rehabilitation and traumatic brain injury where it is expected that brain activity patterns may differ from the norm.
"It is well known that light, including near-infrared light, penetrates to a limited extent through many human tissues, including the brain, skull and scalp; although that light is scattered by those tissues and some wavelengths are absorbed more than others. It is also well known that a pattern of absorbed wavelengths (or color) of light transmitted by tissue varies with oxygenation of blood in the tissue. Further, volume and flow of blood in the tissue is known to change scattering properties in the tissue.
"Diffuse-optical functional neuroimaging is a technique of determining patterns of brain activity in mammalian or human subjects by projecting light into the subject into selected points on the subject's head while observing patterns of intensity, phase and color of scattered light emitted from the head at selected points. This may be performed using light having wavelengths in the near-infrared, with tomographic processing to obtain some three-dimensional localization of activity regions. It is expected that that brain activity patterns obtained through this near-infrared diffuse-optical functional neuroimaging (NIR-DOTFNI) can be correlated to activity patterns obtained through fMRI, and that these patterns may also correlate with brain activity patterns obtained through electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalogram (MEG), transcranial Doppler sonography (TCD), positron emission tomography (PET), and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).
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