Image of lights stimulated by brain activity

At this week's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2018, researchers from The University of Nottingham and University College London will be presenting a new, prototype quantum brain scanner that can measure ‘brain waves’ with unprecedented accuracy.

The team includes scientists from the Institute of Mental Health and the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre who work together to integrate cutting edge physics and advanced neuroscience, to increase understanding of mental health.

The scanner is four times more sensitive than conventional machines in detecting electromagnetic brain activity and is worn as a helmet. Traditional scanners generally require the subject to remain still, making them unsuitable for use by young children, those affected by claustrophobia, and persons with tremors, amongst others. They also require large and costly pieces of equipment, which means that the technology is not always accessible and that people living in rural areas may have to travel some distance in order to have the investigations they need. The benefits of the helmet are, therefore, that it can be used whilst mobile – allowing the patient freedom to move and remain comfortable – and that it is a much smaller piece of equipment than standard scanners, making it easier to accommodate in smaller and more remote healthcare facilities.

It’s hoped the new scanner can reveal how brain networks are changed in mental health conditions, and how they can be re-sculpted by therapy.

For more please visit the Royal Society Summer Exhibtion website.