The hair brush that reads your mind: “Using light to measure a person’s thinking pattern has numerous advantages over EEGs, including ease of use, reliability, cost, portability and MRI compatibility,” says Duncan MacFarlane, professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas.
“The conventional fibers used in fNIRS [functional near infrared spectroscopy] systems terminate in a large, flat bundle, and it is easy for a patient’s hair to get in the way and block the signal,” he explains. “So we developed a new tip for the fNIRS fibers -- a brush optrode that slides the fibers between the hair follicles. Signal levels increase 3- to 5-fold, and patients report that the brush optrode is considerably more comfortable than the conventional fiber ends. And the brush optrode is easier to set up, which saves time and money.”