A quantum sensor could help detect dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
(CVBJ) A new quantum sensor developed by scientists at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom could help doctors identify diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with extreme precision and well in advance.
The sensor can detect the magnetic fields generated when neurons fire. By measuring moment-to-moment neural changes, it tracks the speed at which signals move through the brain.
This time element is important because it means that a patient could be scanned twice several months apart to check if the activity in their brain is slowing down. That slowdown can be a sign of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative brain diseases.
In this way, the technology introduces a new method to detect biomarkers of early health problems, the researchers emphasize in a statement.
These quantum sensors are believed to be much more accurate even than EEG or fMRI scanners, due in part to the fact that the sensors can get close to the skull.
he closer proximity of the sensors to the brain can not only improve the spatial resolution, but also the temporal resolution of the results.
This two-fold improvement in accuracy, both in time and space, is highly significant, as it indicates that brain signals can be tracked in ways that are inaccessible to other types of sensors.
“It is quantum technology that makes these sensors so precise,” explains Professor Peter Kruger, who heads the Quantum Systems and Devices Laboratory at the University of Sussex.
And he adds: “the sensors contain a gas of rubidium atoms. Rays of laser light are illuminated at the atoms, and when the atoms undergo changes in a magnetic field, they emit light differently. Fluctuations in the emitted light reveal changes. in the magnetic activity of the brain. Quantum sensors are accurate to milliseconds and several millimeters. “