Research press release


Nature Communications

Neuroscience: A brain-scanning bike helmet



この問題に対処するため、Matthew Brookesたちの研究グループは、装着型脳磁計を自転車用ヘルメットに組み込んだ。Brookesたちは、頭部の動きに追従できる小型軽量センサーをヘルメットに取り付け、スキャンの質が被験者の動きに影響されないようにした。これにより、2歳と5歳の幼児の脳が母親のタッチに対して示す反応を記録できた。また、子どもたちは、このヘルメットのレプリカを自宅で着用したり、自転車に乗ったりでき、これによってヘルメットに慣れ親しむことができ、脳スキャン中の不安感の軽減に役立つ。Brookesたちは、ビデオゲームをしている10代の青少年とウクレレを弾いている24歳の若者の脳活動を記録して、このヘルメットがどのような形や大きさの頭にも容易に適用可能なことを実証した。


A wearable brain scanner system using a modified bike helmet is reported today in Nature Communications. The device could make brain scans easier and more reliable in children, and facilitate the study of brain development throughout life.

Brain scanning technologies, such as magnetoencephalography (which measures brain activity based on small magnetic fields produced by the brain), provide useful information about brain function. However, most scanners are optimized for adults, which makes it difficult to monitor brain activity in infants and children. Besides differences in head size, children also tend to move around more than adults during the procedure, which can negatively impact the quality of the scan.

To address this issue, Matthew Brookes and colleagues built a wearable magnetoencephalography device into a bike helmet. The authors mounted small, lightweight sensors on the helmet, which can follow the head’s motion, so that the quality of the scan is not affected by the patient’s movement. This allowed them to record the brain’s response to maternal touch in young children aged two and five years old. Children could wear a replica of the helmet at home, or even on a bike ride, which helped familiarise them with the helmet and reduce anxiety during the scanning. The researchers demonstrated that the helmet can be easily adapted to any head shape and size, by recording brain activity in a teenager playing video games and a 24-year-old playing the ukulele.

This brain scanner could help scientists investigate healthy brain development as well as neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and epilepsy.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12486-x

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