Fusion plasma research helps neurologists to hear above the noise: MEG has great potential as a useful diagnostic tool - it is non-invasive and much more comfortable for the subject than other techniques - but the neuromagnetic signal varies fast, the signal to noise ratio is low meaning that such data are challenging to understand.
These challenges - extracting signal from noise in observations that can only be made from external sensors - are also often faced in magnetically confined plasmas for fusion. Fusion plasma researchers at the University of Warwick have developed methods to deal with data analysis problems similar to those faced by the neuroscientists. The Warwick researchers have now shared these methods and analytical techniques with their neuroscientific colleagues in Cambridge and Birkbeck. Together they have been able to carry out new studies that are already beginning to provide new insights into the brain's network - they have made the first map of the dynamically changing network of the brain as it deals with the 'surprise' of the different sounds.