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Optical tomography uncovers secrets of babies' brains

17 Jun 2002

Hitachi Medical Corporation of Japan is to market products based on a new brain imaging technique using optical tomography.

The technique obtains two-dimensional images of blood within the cerebral cortex by illuminating a patient's scalp with very weak near infrared light. Movement has only a small effect on the images so brain activity can be monitored without the patient remaining still or requiring sedation.

Researchers at the Central Research Laboratory of Hitachi and the Foundation for Brain Function and Diseases have taken advantage of this feature to obtain the first images of infant brain function. This study enables new insights into how a child's brain develops and suggests the possibility that some brain-related disorders might be overcome through early diagnosis and training.

This technique, first demonstrated in 1995, produces dynamic images of a 90mm x 90 mm area with a 0.1 second temporal resolution. The technique gives a spatial resolution of about 20 mm but the researchers have yet to address problems of light scattering.

Hitachi has filed about 40 patents on this technique.

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