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Cook Children's Neurosciences program offers some of the nation's most incredible technology. Every day, we're helping children walk, live seizure free, and have every opportunity to live their best life possible.
But we're not resting on our laurels. Our Neurosciences Research team is dedicated to furthering the capabilities offered by our existing technology and to develop even more promising solutions, bringing hope and success to children here at home, across the nation, and around the world.
How are we accomplishing this? Our technology research is currently focused on the following:
MEG is a non-invasive electrophysiological imaging technique that measures the magnetic fields generated by the human brain. MEG is performed using a magnetometer, a specially designed tool (i.e. coil) that records minute magnetic fields in the range of femto-Tesla (10-15) to pico-Tesla (10-12). MEG offers an excellent temporal resolution in the range of sub-milliseconds and a very good localization (spatial location) accuracy of a few millimeters, especially for superficial cortical sources.
Electroencephalography (EEG) is an electrophysiological technique that records the electrical fields generated by the human brain. It is typically noninvasive and uses electrodes placed on the child’s scalp (like antennas to pick up brain waves). The electrical fields are recorded through sensitive amplifiers that measure regional differences in the electrical potential (voltage) which correspond to differential activity in different brain areas. Typically, these fields are recorded at a discrete set of electrode sites, no more than 20. Yet, if an accurate topographical map is to be obtained, the measurement sites must be numerous (up to 256) and in close proximity.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging technique used to take various detailed pictures of the body, including anatomy and physiological processes (Fig. 1). MRI is performed using a magnetic field and radio waves, not ionizing radiation like that of computed axial tomography (CAT/CT) nor radioactive tracers in the blood like that of positron emission tomography (PET). MRI works well because our bodies are made of cells which contain water (H2O – containing hydrogen ions - protons). The MRI scanner uses powerful magnets to excite and detect these positively charged protons, which allows us to see and take a picture of the tissues they make up.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used to evoke an electric current by changing the magnetic field in a specific area of the brain via electromagnetic induction. Specifically, a stimulator is connected to the TMS magnetic coil (wand-looking device), which can be turned on to generate an electric current that then induces a magnetic field.
The functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technique detects blood oxygenation changes as a surrogate indicator of brain activity. During neuronal activation, more blood is recruited in the activated regions to supply the cells’ increased metabolic demand for oxygen, a phenomenon first reported as neurovascular coupling in the late 1800’s.
Sucking and swallowing skills develop in utero as the fetus regulates amniotic fluid levels and further develop ex utero to incorporate breathing. Early in the investigations of infant’s sucking it became clear that there are two distinct types, nutritive and non-nutritive sucking. As an infant gains more experience, these sucking patterns mature in strength and efficiency. Non-nutritive sucking (NNS) is the primary pattern seen when an infant sucks on a pacifier, his/her thumb, or other objects, while nutritive sucking (NS) is the primary pattern seen when an infant is sucking to feed (either bottle or breast).