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Not Just Another Hellraiser
Sure this Geodesic Sensor Net (EGI) might look like something from a Hollywood horror film, but the only thing scary about it is the brain wave data that it collects. This advanced tool is similar to electroencephalograms (EEG), but utilizes some 256 electrodes as compared with the 20 that were used by older EEGs. More electrodes, more data say designers.
Because it is important that the electrodes are positioned equally on the skull, geodesics (the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere) are employed. This means that each pair of sensors on the net exerts equal pressure on all other sensors drawing the net to the skull. The designers claim that this makes the net comfortable, but it also assures impressive data collection.
Okay, that makes sense, even to senseless Why Filers, but what exactly is an EEG? Essentially, brain cells function by creating tiny electrical impulses. When functioning normally, these impulses change with an individual's level of arousal. A relaxed person, say somebody dreaming about listening to Lawrence Welk, produces slower impulses than a Yankees fan during the seventh game of the World Series.
This is useful information for many reasons. For one, doctors are able to identify abnormal brain function such as occurs among epileptics. The additional information provided by all of those sensors allow the EGI to take this several steps further, however, by helping scientists uncover the nature and behavior of such a condition. Studies using this new technology may ultimately tell us a great deal about everything from the nature of emotions to the precise nature of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's.
Photo by Jeff Miller. Courtesy: University of Wisconsin-Madison.