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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Joe Culver Hot Topics presentation: Functional optical imaging of the brain

Presented at SPIE Photonics West 2013

13 February 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201302.20

Joe Culver, Washington Univ. in St. Louis (USA)Functional MRI (fMRI) is currently used to map brain activity by using tasked-based testing while the subject is in the MRI instrument. But this is not transportable to the operating environment and so other methods of identifying brain activity are sought. In "Functional optical imaging of the brain," Joe Culver (Washington Univiversity at St. Louis) describes how diffuse optical imaging of scattered light is being investigated to produce a more portable brain monitoring system.

The technique uses correlations among multiple detector signals to map regions of brain activity. Current results show good agreement between fMRI and the diffuse scattering results. Pilot studies are under way in both the operating room and in prenatal care units. The issues under investigation are resolution, field of view and wearability of the instrument.


Joe Culver is head of the Optical Radiology Lab at Washington University at St. Louis. Dr. Culver's lab explores ways of exploiting non-invasive optical measurements for both functional- and molecular- biological imaging. Specifically, the group develops subsurface optical tomography for imaging intrinsic, hemoglobin-sensitive contrasts, and exogenous, molecularly-targeted-fluorescent contrasts.