Keeping a track on the brain cells and hormones produced is a slightly difficult task due to its complexity. In order to find out solutions for the brain disorders, the monitoring of the brain is a necessity. There are a number of previous techniques available which are limited in terms of accuracy and how much of the brain they can monitor. Hence, the researchers are trying to find out new technological advancements in terms of equipment or techniques to study the whole human brain.
Professor Michael Cima teamed up with Professor Robert Langer, and Professor Ann Graybiel of the MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research to measure the neurotransmitter level or behavior, especially the dopamine level, at the time scale and spatial scale. The new device, which is an array of electrodes, helps monitor the dopamine present in the brain cells. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps the brain cells communicate with each other. The fluctuation in the dopamine levels is mainly seen in the human brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Recently, a deep brain stimulation therapy is used to resupply the brain with dopamine but no one knows how much dopamine is supplied. In order to obtain the detail information regarding the dopamine-producing cells in the striatum region of the brain, the researchers have come up with a new device.
The previously used carbon electrodes is a single 100 Micron diameter electrode, which has a number of disadvantages such as can measure the levels of dopamine at a single spot, can end up having scarring tissues or film formation around them that can interfere with the dopamine level monitoring process. Thus, the solution to all this is the new array of eight to sixteen 10 Micron electrodes wrapped in a rigid polymer called PEG. The PEG restrains the deflection and protects the electrodes when entering the brain. An oscillating voltage applied to the electrodes, which at a certain point bring about an electrochemical change in the dopamine, leads to producing a measurable electric current that can be monitored in at millisecond timescale. These electrodes can end up giving accurate measurable signals up to two months.
Basically, they are finding out a way to chemically interfere with brain cells in order to make the communication and measuring selective and focused for the better treatment of the human brain disorders.