Brain scans can tell you if your brain is suffering from a type of brain cancer, and can give you a good idea of how long it’s likely to take for the disease to progress.
But the most common way to get this type of data is through the use of a brain imaging machine, which uses a high-tech imaging technology to collect data about your brain.
Now, researchers from the University of Queensland and the Australian National University have used an artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Neurohub to develop a software tool that allows researchers to capture these images and extract brain information from them.
The tool was developed by the team from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and has been made available to the public.
“Our AI tool, Neurohub, has the potential to revolutionise how people can monitor their brain and identify potential brain tumours and disease,” said lead author Dr. Anthony Viscardi, a professor of computer science at the University.
“Its capability to collect, analyze, and process brain data in real time is unparalleled by anything currently available in the market.”
The researchers say Neurohub can be used to collect brain scans from a variety of sources including MRI, PET, and PET scan, but they’re particularly interested in analysing brain images from non-invasive imaging devices like EEG, which measure electrical activity in the brain.
“Brain MRI, EEG, and CT scan are all very different imaging techniques, but we have developed a tool that can combine these methods in a way that allows us to take advantage of the vast amount of data collected by these methods,” said co-author Dr. Paul Kramarz, a senior lecturer in the School of Computing and Systems Science at the Queensland University of Technology.
“By combining these technologies, we hope that Neurohub will become the first tool that will allow us to perform neuroimaging in a simple and intuitive manner.”
Brain scan data is often collected through invasive imaging equipment, such as MRI, and sometimes even from invasive instruments like PET, but the technology is expensive.
To make Neurohub work, the researchers have to collect EEG data from brain electrodes that are implanted in the scalp, and then convert that data into data points that can be extracted from the images.
For example, if a person has an MRI scan that is using a single electrode, that electrode may be used as the basis for extracting data from the brain image.
Brain scans are notoriously difficult to collect because they’re typically taken when people are unconscious.
The researchers developed a way to take EEG data and convert it into a number of different brain states that can then be used in a more straightforward way.
“When we first started working on Neurohub we used it to capture EEG data for a variety in the United States, Australia, and Canada,” said Kramamkarz.
“We used it for a large number of studies, and also for the UK to track the prevalence of COVID-19 in that country.
But then in the US, we stopped using Neurohub and decided to look at a different approach.”
Neurohub works by identifying the different brain state that a person is in, and how that state is different from what a person might be expecting.
For this study, the team used data from more than 6,000 MRI scans taken in the USA between 2014 and 2018, as well as more than 20,000 EEG scans taken between 2016 and 2018.
The data was analysed to identify which brain states the people had been in when they were scanned.
They then extracted these different brain signals from the EEG scans.
They were able to identify specific brain states in people that the EEG data showed were different from people expected to be in the other brain states.
In particular, the brain states showed up in a large proportion of people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a type that affects the way the brain functions.
Neurohub was able to analyse the EEG signals of more than 9,000 people and identify the different states that they were in during a scan.
These were then used to generate a brain map, which was then used for further analysis.
The results showed that people in the highest-risk states were those with the highest amounts of activity in their brain.
For instance, the people with the most activity in a particular region of the brain were at risk for Alzheimer’s, while the people in other brain regions showed less activity.
NeuroHub was also able to tell if a particular person was more likely to have COVID than the average person.
“This was the first time that we were able see which brain regions were activated by COVID in people with brain tumour risk,” said Viscardi.
“There were some regions that were more active than others, and the results showed we could predict the risk of COIDS, so we can make decisions about treatment.”
Brain scans have become increasingly important in recent years.
In 2017, a team at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) successfully made a head-to-head comparison