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Squirm Scan

Making brain scans of children and of people with conditions like Parkinson’s disease is difficult because the patients have trouble keeping still. Soon, though, technology initially designed to let geneticists scan even-squirmier patients-mice-just might help. Being developed jointly at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Lab Facility in Newport News, VA, the system tracks-and compensates for-patient movement during a scan. Reflective markers are attached to the head; an infrared strobe light illuminates these markers, and two infrared cameras monitor the reflections. The position data derived from these cameras are then used to correct the scan information by determining where an x-ray, in the case of a single-photon emission tomography scan, would have hit the detector had the head not moved. Sorting out the data allows the researchers to deliver a crisp, accurate image. Tests of the technology began on mice in March, and the team hopes a fully functional version will be helping humans in two to three years.

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