Friday, December 7, 2012
BCI shows levels oxyhemoglobin in brain
Tom Chau uses a Brain Computer Interface to monitor music listening in children that are non-verbal. This machine connects to the brain and measures the oxygen and hemoglobin levels in the brain using colored light. The information is shown on the computer interface as red light when the brain is registering the stimuli and becoming oxygenated. This process is used to harness whether the children are responding to music. First, they play brown noise to differentiate between the music and the noise and what they find is that the oxygen in the brain dissipates, to show to the lack of response through negative valence. Then they play a Sarah McLaughlin song and the topographic map of oxyhemoglobin in the brain is heavy on the left side and the blood flow increases through a lateralization of hemodynamic blood flow. There are significantly different responses to music through negative and positive valences as the child responds accordingly. With these oxy hemoglobin increases in the brains Tom Chau is able to conclude that the machine can detect whether the child is having a negative or positive experience in the brain or if they are responding at all to the stimuli.
This machine can be used to gauge a child’s emotional response to music and it seems successful at improving cognitive function in people with motor dysfunction. Beginning in the 1990s, research showed that the brain actually remains flexible even into old age. This concept is referred to as cortical plasticity, meaning that the brain is able to adapt in amazing ways to new circumstances. Learning something new or partaking in novel activities forms new connections between neurons and reduces the onset of age-related neurological problems. If an adult suffers a brain injury, other parts of the brain are able to take over the functions of the damaged portion.
This means that an adult can learn to use their brain forming new connections and adapting to this new use of neurons. In some circumstances where brain dysfunction occurs or there is grey regions in the brain, these new findings conclude that our brains can accommodate changes to increase use in these regions to repair brain function and rehabilitate otherwise injured patients. This is exciting research as performer’s injury, motor skill disability and other forms of injury can be rehabilitated through the concept of cortical plasticity. Imagine if these children can begin to use their motor skills through the monitoring of electromagnetic currents on these computers.
This new imaging tool for brain development is exciting because it measures an improtant factor in the working of our brains, oxyhemoglobin. Now that Chau has discovered this new brain imaging tools there can occur real evidence that certain parts of the brain are reacting to stimuli or not reacting. Exciting new brain imaging tool!