observing babies brains with lasers

I tested my first baby today! In fact, i tested twins. okay, it wasn’t for my study and i didn’t much beyond distracting the blighters whilst someone else strapped a near-infrared spectroscopy camera to the back of their heads, but it was very good start.

Near-infrared Spectroscopy ( NIRS ) is very, very cool.. basically we fire laser beams into the babies skulls where they bounce around for a bit before we film what gets scattered out the other side. The skull and tissues are actually fairly transparent to wavelengths in the near infrared spectrum (700 to 1000 nm), especially the thin skulls of young babies, but also rather handily one gets absorption bands for oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin and for cytochrome oxidase (an enzyme involved in the final phase of respiratory cycle) so can film where more oxygen is being used.. how hard the different bits of the brain are working.. obviously it’s a lot more noisy and inefficient than that.. but who cares we’re playing with lasers and that’s the important thing!

Whilst someone else did the sciency bit, my role was to talk nonsense to the nippers and wave toys in their face to distract them from the person strapping laser beams to the back of their heads. A small but important contribution to science!

About caspar

Caspar is just one monkey among billions. Battering his keyboard without expectations even of peanuts, let alone of aping the Immortal Bard. By day he is an infantologist at Birkbeck Babylab, by night he runs BabyLaughter.net
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