F E AT U R E: B I OM E D I C A L I MAG I N G
UA Researchers Developing Brain-Mapping Technology Researchers at the University of Arizona are developing a noninvasive brain-scanning technology that could produce images far superior to those obtained with the most commonly used systems – electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging. The technique, which incorporates sound waves to measure electrical activity in neural tissue, could improve diagnosis and treatment of many disorders, including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury. Russell Witte, associate professor of medical imaging, biomedical engineering and optical sciences, is principal investigator of the research project, launched in October 2015 with a $1.15 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The three-year project also includes researchers from the UA departments of psychology, neurosurgery, neurology, emergency medicine and mathematics, and from three other universities.
Brainwave—Russ Witte displays an ultrasound brain scan, used in his research to develop acoustoelectric brain imaging.
“We know very little about how neurons act collectively to guide our thoughts, emotions and behaviors – or cause seizures or mood swings,” Witte said. “Functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography have provided some clues. But both fMRI and EEG share a major limitation: They produce images with poor resolution. We think our new technology could overcome that limitation.”
New Microscopy Device Aims to Help Surgeons Save More Lives Researchers at the University of Arizona have invented a device that for the first time allows neurosurgeons, who use microscopes extensively while operating, to see blood flowing inside vessels and more clearly distinguish cancerous from healthy tissue under the microscope. Called augmented microscopy, the technology gives surgeons a much more detailed picture in real time and helps them stay on course in surgeries where being off two millimeters could cause paralysis,
blindness and even death. And surgeons get this better view without having to learn new technical skills or adapt to changes in the operating room.
“When we started developing this technology, we thought of it like a Google map of a surgical view, providing layers of pertinent information in real time,” said Marek Romanowski, UA associate professor of biomedical engineering. “Our augmented technology
Witte and co-investigators will develop and test the noninvasive technology, called acoustoelectric brain imaging, or ABI, on mammalian brains for the first time. The project is part of the U.S. government’s BRAIN Initiative, or Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. BRAIN involves 80 public and private research institutions working together to map and model the human brain.
provides diagnostic information under the microscope on demand and in color, appearing directly over tissue a surgeon is operating on – as if the tissue was painted to help direct the surgeon’s work.” The technology overlays an actual, or bright field, image a surgeon sees under a microscope with an electronically processed image using near-infrared fluorescence, a computer-generated imaging technology in which contrast agents are injected into patients to illuminate vital diagnostic information and help surgeons avoid cutting the wrong vessel or removing healthy tissue. 39:1 spring 2016 ARIZONAENGINEER 7