We need new brain imaging techniques like we need a hole in the head! But wait a minute—
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
When things go wrong with our brains, an actual look at them could do some good. If only those pesky skulls didn’t get in the way!
Enter researchers at the University of California, Riverside. They've devised a way doctors can examine the brain through a small window in the skull. Yes, it’s an actual window—except not glass, since broken shards could be a problem. Instead, the scientists modified a material called "zirconia," a ceramic used in dental work that is much stronger than glass. Normally opaque, the team used heat and pressure to make zirconia clear.
A brain window provides a porthole to image the brain with a technique called optical coherence tomography. Which is kind of like a sonogram, just using light instead of sound. Light could also be used to make neurons fire, or not fire, to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Hey, is this the coolest thing to happen to heads since Google glass? Don’t answer that.
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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.