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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J021318/1
Title: Fast optical tomography for imaging seizure activity in newborn infants
Principal Investigator: Hebden, Professor JC
Other Investigators:
Arridge, Professor SR Holder, Professor D Gibson, Professor AP
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Imperial College London
Department: Medical Physics and Biomedical Eng
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2012 Ends: 31 March 2016 Value (£): 874,937
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Medical Imaging
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 May 2012 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting - 9 May 2012 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We are proposing to develop a new way of imaging seizures in the brains of newborn babies, by shining light harmlessly across the head. This project is motivated by our recent discovery, using optical techniques, of previously unknown fluctuations in blood volume in the brains of babies diagnosed with seizures. Every year in the UK, over 1000 babies born at term are diagnosed with seizures, and the condition is even more common in infants born prematurely. Seizures usually cause convulsive body movements, and are due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This activity can usually be measured using a method known as electroencephalography (EEG). However EEG has significant limitations: it cannot detect activity occurring deep inside the brain and was normal during the unusual blood volume fluctuations we observed optically. Accurate diagnosis is important because seizures are not just a symptom of a medical problem, but are themselves a potential cause of brain injury. The work we propose will lead to better diagnosis and understanding of infant seizures, and underpin research into better treatments.

We plan to modify an existing optical imaging system to acquire data simultaneously with EEG measurements, and develop new schemes which enable images to be acquired much faster and with fewer data than is currently possible. This is essential in order to study the fluctuations observed previously, and determine how they evolve over time within different parts of the brain. The research will involve developing a new theoretical analysis, and designing new ways of processing the recorded data to extract the required information. We will also explore a novel way of combining optical and electrical measurements together to provide simultaneous three-dimensional maps of electrical activity and blood volume changes. All the new techniques will be tested on tissue-simulating phantoms before conducting a programme of studies on newborn babies with a high risk of seizures. We also propose to organise a Workshop, inviting other scientists and doctors interested in combining different medical imaging techniques to examine brain activity, in adults as well as children.

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