27-Nov-2019 - Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

Novel sensor implant radically improves significance of NMR brain scans

Researchers present a new method that shows single neuron data

A team of neuroscientists and electrical engineers from Germany and Switzerland developed a highly sensitive implant that enables to probe brain physiology with unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution. Now published in Nature Methods, they introduce an ultra-fine needle with an integrated chip that is capable of detecting and transmitting nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data from nanoliter volumes of brain oxygen metabolism. The breakthrough design will allow entirely new applications in the life sciences.

The group of researchers led by Klaus Scheffler from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and the University of Tübingen as well as by Jens Anders from the University of Stuttgart identified a technical bypass that bridges the electrophysical limits of contemporary brain scan methods. Their development of a capillary monolithic nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) needle combines the versatility of brain imaging with the accuracy of a very localized and fast technique to analyze the specific neuronal activity of the brain.

“The integrated design of a nuclear magnetic resonance detector on a single chip supremely reduces the typical electromagnetic interference of magnetic resonance signals. This enables neuroscientists to gather precise data from minuscule areas of the brain and to combine them with information from spatial and temporal data of the brain´s physiology,” explains principal investigator Klaus Scheffler. “With this method, we can now better understand specific activity and functionalities in the brain.”

According to Scheffler and his group, their invention may unveil the possibility of discovering novel effects or typical fingerprints of neuronal activation, up to specific neuronal events in brain tissue.
“Our design setup will allow scalable solutions, meaning the possibility of expanding the collection of data from more than from a single area – but on the same device. The scalability of our approach will allow us to extend our platform by additional sensing modalities such as electrophysiological and optogenetic measurements,“ adds the second principal investigator Jens Anders.

The teams of Scheffler and Anders are very confident that their technical approach may help demerge the complex physiologic processes within the neural networks of the brain and that it may uncover additional benefits that can provide even deeper insights into the functionality of the brain.

With their primary goal to develop new techniques that are able to specifically probe the structural and biochemical composition of living brain tissue, their latest innovation paves the way for future highly specific and quantitative mapping techniques of neuronal activity and bioenergetic processes in the brain cells.

Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

Request information now

Recommend news PDF version / Print

Share on

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • implants
  • neurons
  • magnetic resonance
  • brain
More about Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  • News

    Breaks in the genome

    Breaks and rearrangements in the genome can lead to severe diseases, even if all genes remain intact. Hi-C, a method to map the three-dimensional structure of chromosomes, promises more reliable and accurate diagnoses of such defects, but is not used in the clinic yet. A team of researchers ... more

    The genetic basis of bats’ superpowers revealed

    For the first time, the raw genetic material that codes for bats’ unique adaptations and superpowers such as the ability to fly, to use sound to move effortlessly in complete darkness, to survive and tolerate deadly diseases, to resist ageing and cancer - has been fully revealed. Bat1K, a g ... more

    The relationship of proteins

    Proteins control life as one of the most important biomolecules - as enzymes, receptors, signal or structural building blocks. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry have for the first time uncovered the proteomes of 100 different organisms. The selected specimens com ... more

More about Uni Stuttgart
  • News

    Images from the inside of blood vessels

    Researchers of the Universities of Stuttgart and Adelaide in cooperation with medical research centers in Australia developed a special microoptical tool with a thickness of only 125 microns. This enables endoscopic examimations within blood vessels whose diameter is smaller than 0.5 mm and ... more

    Physicists are taking the next step towards more sensitive sensors

    Entangled states of light allow for enhanced sensitivity in optical interferometry, a measurement technique in physics. Therefore, so-called path-entangled photon states in well-defined temporal pulses are required. So far, the generation of such states was possible only to a limited extent ... more

    Charge separation in a molecule consisting of two identical atoms

    Physicists from the University of Stuttgart show the first experimental proof of a molecule consisting of two identical atoms that exhibits a permanent electric dipole moment. This observation contradicts the classical opinion described in many physics and chemistry textbooks. A dipolar mol ... more