Hitachi unveils headset to study brain activity

Sep 14, 2011
Hitachi engineer Takeshi Ogino dispays a portable 'brain-machine' interface' equipped with an optical sensor in a headset to measure prefrontal bloodstream, at the company's headquarters in Tokyo on September 14. A Japanese research team have unveiled a headset they say can measure activity in the brain and could be used to improve performance in the classroom or on the sports field.

A Japanese research team on Wednesday unveiled a headset they say can measure activity in the brain and could be used to improve performance in the classroom or on the sports field.

Engineers from Hitachi working with university scientists say the lightweight headset will accurately measure minute changes in the amount of blood in the brain -- a key indicator of how hard the organ is working.

They said numerous wireless devices could be run simultaneously, with the data displayed on a screen in real time, allowing researchers to monitor the performance of up to 20 people, or a whole sporting team, at once.

The Japanese electronics giant said it currently has no plans for a commercial launch of the equipment, which uses near-infrared light to detect the amount of blood in the brain.

Scientists studying have previously had to use highly artificial environments, such as laying people in a dark tube and keeping their heads still, said Ryuta Kawashima, head of the research team.

But the newly developed gear will allow them to take measurements in real-life situations where are interacting in complicated social situations, said Kawashima, of Tohoku University.

"One of my dreams is to help individuals better perform in society," said Kawashima, the scientist behind the smash-hit "" games on Nintendo consoles.

Exploring the of, for example, football players to determine under which conditions they perform well could also help improve whole team performance, Kawashima said.

Kawashima is also looking at how the kit could be used in classrooms.

"Studying brain activity when humans are concentrating or getting an idea is expected to help trainee teachers to get feedback from pupils and improve their teaching abilities," Kawashima said.

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SteveL
not rated yet Sep 14, 2011
I'd like to get my hands on one of these. I know some people I have a theory about...
EWH
not rated yet Sep 16, 2011
The frontal blood-flow measurement using IR diodes has been done for several years, including by hobbists. It is interesting and useful in situations with high-impact motions, but it only works for the frontal lobes and the temporal resolution is low.

I find TI's ADS1298 chip more impressive, which is a full, high-quality 8-channel EEG/EKG/EMG for $25, including the precision analog front-end with variable-gain amplifiers, right-leg driver, integrated oscillator and voltage reference, electrode/lead off detection, 4 microvolt peak-peak input-referred noise at 150Hz bandwitdh, up to 4k samples per second per channel, and 8 24-bit ADCs with only 6mW total power consumption. (electrodes and a data-logging processor are still needed).
rsklyar
not rated yet Sep 18, 2011
The relevant study at Northwestern University: issuu.com/r_sklyar/docs/sklyarvsmussaivaldi