The latest frontier in brain scanning bypasses traditional imaging to monitor neural activity directly through the transmission of electrical signals.

The Center for Tomography Research Laboratory (CTECH Labs) showcases the Electrical Capacitance Volume Tomography (ECVT) (November 7th) at the 6th International IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Conference on Neural Engineering in San Diego. The system uses computerized sensor systems to detect brain abnormalities that could point to the presence of tumors, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

While CT scans and MRIs create 2D maps of brain anatomy, the ECVT monitors the brain’s electrical signals and instantly generates a volumetric map of mental activity. Tumors inhibit neuro-signal transmission, generating abnormalities in the final image. At only 5 volts, the system requires far less energy than existing imaging techniques and uses a non-invasive helmet scanner that emits no radiation.

CTECH Labs founder and director Dr. Warsito Purwo Taruno developed the ECVT in 2004 in partnership with The Ohio State University. The technology is currently being tested by NASA for zero gravity fuel gauging and by the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory for use with clean-energy power plants.