New Optical Imaging Tool to Assess Detailed Brain Activity


A new optical brain-imaging tool, the Imagent, provides a never-before-seen look inside the head using lasers and photodetectors. The non-invasive tool estimates and measures infrared light which is projected into the brain and the frequency at which it exists, providing a picture of brain activity and blood flow at the same time.

On August 15, neuroscientist Kyle Mathewson received fund from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), a Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and purchased the advanced optical imaging tool, which allows the scientists to measure brain activity accurately in a non-invasive manner.

Kyle Mathewson, assistant professor at the University of Alberta and Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute affiliate, expound that optical imaging system provides better insight of instant changes in the brain function and clear up the unresolved questions regarding the activities of brains. “The system is genuinely cutting edge. Our laboratory at the University of Alberta will have one of only a few in the world and first of its kind in Canada,” he added.

Mathewson studied the brain ability to concentrate and filter out different information. The study had implications from job training and professional development to create smarter artificial intelligence.

The researcher said that they were intended to measure the individual’s state of attention from moment to moment. For example, they could determine the moment when a driver stops paying attention to the road or determine practices that support students to learn better and more efficiently. Extraordinary views of the brain networks which give rise to these and other important behaviours could be measured by using the tool.

“New optical brain-imaging tool, using lasers and photodetectors, measured activities of the brain, non-invasively.”

There were enormous implications said Mathewson, “This optical imaging system helps to put the UAlberta cognitive neuroscience program even more firmly on the map.” He added, “Securing this tool widens the scope of potential research and is already attracting interest from students and scientists around the world.”

The Kirsty Duncan, Honorable Minister of Science said, “Our scientists need the best tools and equipment for ground-breaking research and discovery and we are committed to ensuring they have them. Their successes will lead to an improved economy and will fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally.”