Functional ultrasound imaging of brain activity in human newborns

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Abstract

Functional neuroimaging modalities are crucial for understanding brain function, but their clinical use is challenging. Recently, the use of ultrasonic plane waves transmitted at ultrafast frame rates was shown to allow for the spatiotemporal identification of brain activation through neurovascular coupling in rodents. Using a customized flexible and noninvasive headmount, we demonstrate in human neonates that real-time functional ultrasound imaging (fUSI) is feasible by combining simultaneous continuous video–electroencephalography (EEG) recording and ultrafast Doppler (UfD) imaging of the brain microvasculature. fUSI detected very small cerebral blood volume variations in the brains of neonates that closely correlated with two different sleep states defined by EEG recordings. fUSI was also used to assess brain activity in two neonates with congenital abnormal cortical development enabling elucidation of the dynamics of neonatal seizures with high spatiotemporal resolution (200 μm for UfD and 1 ms for EEG). fUSI was then applied to track how waves of vascular changes were propagated during interictal periods and to determine the ictal foci of the seizures. Imaging the human brain with fUSI enables high-resolution identification of brain activation through neurovascular coupling and may provide new insights into seizure analysis and the monitoring of brain function.

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