Structure and Operation of the Human Brain – Week 9

This week we had no lecture but instead two excursions. The first one took us to Aalto NeuroImaging (ANI). This is a research infrastructure at Aalto University, so we did not even have to leave the campus. ANI consists of three functional neuroimaging modalities, the navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) at Aalto TMS, the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at Advanced Magnetic Imaging (AMI) Centre and the magnetoencephalography (MEG) at MEG Core. It was nice to get to see the different laboratories and the machines in them while hearing about what is done there.

The second excursion took us to Sooma, a company that develops and markets non-invasive brain stimulation devices for treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. There we got a brief introduction to the company’s history and then heard a lot about the research studies that had led to the development of their device and that have been done with their device. Afterwards, one of our group actually tested the device.

Multiple studies of depression show that there is a difference in neural activity in both brain’s hemispheres between patients with depression and healthy patients. So, what can be done with Sooma’s device is, that it can send an electric current through the human brain situating anode and cathode at specific areas on the skull, which aims at regulating the neuronal membrane potential between the brain’s hemispheres. Although the company was only founded in 2013 and they are still a small startup company based in Helsinki, the use of their device is spreading internationally, and research results of clinical trials indicate that the device can be a good replacement for drug therapy for some depression patients. The device can be seen in the picture.

Sooma tDCS

Image: http://soomamedical.com

I really liked the selection of excursions so far because we got to see a big internationally operating company but also a small startup company in the medical technology field and a non-profit research unit. Thus, I am really looking forward to next weeks excursion to Baba Center!

Posted by Franziska Schrank

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