A machine that reads your mind? Almost. Scientists at Alexian Brothers Medical Center are using a new type of brain scan to detect a host of mental conditions, including epilepsy, autism and post traumatic stress disorder.
But instead of looking inside the brain, like most scans do, the new device reads the magnetic waves that extend outside the brain. Those tiny magnetic fields come from the electrical activity that's generated every time a brain cell fires a piece of information to another brain cell.
The device is called a magnetoencephalography machine, or MEG for short. Alexian Brothers' neuroscientest Jeffrey Lewine currently is testing it to see if it can identify PTSD in military personel who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam. He's also seeing if it can be used to diagnose autism spectrum disorder.
The research could lead to better treatments for PTSD patients, and an earlier diagnosis for children with autism.
MEG machines already are being used by surgeons to locate centers of epilepsy in the brain.