You know the day destroys the night, night divides the day – Break on through to the other side... is not only a song by The Doors. It describes what research is all about: opening Doors and breaking through to the other side.
The pictures below show an ‘old hat’, apparently, at least that is what the coolest of the cool researchers would call it: 256 electrodes connecting to the brain to produce a high density EEG. Although it’s an ‘old hat’ (for some), it’s the only one being used in a German clinical environment, I’ve been told. It is that expensive and it is that specialised. It allows an analysis of how consistently the brain reacts to instructions, not just demonstrating brain function but also serving as a first step to the tuning of a computer that would then be able to interpret different brain signals corresponding to commands, such as ‘on’ or ‘off’ or ‘right’ and ‘left’ and ‘stop’ and ‘go’.
It’s an ‘old hat’ because the researchers, those ‘way out there’, are disposing of ‘hats’ altogether, implanting electrodes directly onto the cortex, connecting with ‘machines’ via bluetooth. – Rings a bell? To me it sounds like as if I’d seen the movie!
The other machine, the one with the black ‘saucer’ in the photo on the left, allows the measurement of what is called “Motor-Evoked Potentials”. It checks whether the connections between the brain and the ‘extremities’, such as the fingers on each hand, are still functioning. Because if they do, and a patient cannot control one of these extremities, then researchers know that at least there is a potential to ‘revive’ or re-charge these connections. The “MEP” can also help to show how functions originally located in one part of the brain are now active in another part of the brain, e.g. in the case where the original location was injured and the brain ‘re-wired’ itself.
I have never come across any of this before, although I was told today that at least the MEP is now part of standard procedures in neurological treatments, and especially in the case of an acquired brain injury.
What could be shown with these kind of devices and examinations is that it would give (near to) ground certainty in the company of experienced assessors to which extend the brain is rewiring itself.