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Brain Tracking: Unraveling Mysteries of the Human Mind

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (WGEM)— For the first time ever, neuroscientists at UCLA are measuring human brain waves while a person is in motion.

They’re observing epilepsy patients with previously implanted brain sensors.

Those sensors are in the section of the brain linked to memory and a person’s navigation.

“We have them come in and we're able to record their brain activity from this device,” explained Nanthia Suthana, PhD, a neuroscientist at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The patients wore a specially designed backpack with a wireless system that captured brain waves and eye movements in real time.

The researchers instructed patients to explore an empty room, find a hidden spot, and remember it.

“And we're able to look at the activity deep in the brain, in an area that we know is important for memory. It's actually an area that is first affected in Alzheimer’s disease,” Suthana described.

Scientists found the brain waves were stronger when the participants returned to search for a hidden spot or saw another person approach the location.

“So, we're very interested in how this area works, such that we can inform potential future therapies for treatments of Alzheimer's disease,” shared Suthana.

It’s research helping scientists map out mysteries of the human mind.

The scientists say earlier studies in rodents showed the animal’s brains worked in similar ways to help them keep track of their location, but prior to developing the wireless backpack, the studies couldn’t be replicated in humans because imaging machines would require them to be tethered in one place.

The UCLA team has made the backpack available to other researchers to speed discoveries about brain disorders.

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Don Dwyer

Don Dwyer is a Morning Anchor/Reporter at WGEM.

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