Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles have created a portable, full-spectrum brain monitoring system that looks like a backpack. 

An fMRI scanner is a monstrous machine and requires the patient to stay still for about an hour in order to get an accurate scan. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is another cumbersome procedure where a patient sits upright for approximately 30 minutes with an electromagnetic on their head that shoots a pulse to activate nerve cells. 

Researchers wanted to create a deep brain recording device that would eliminate all of those challenges. Their platform integrates wireless and programmable intracranial electroencephalographic recording and electrical stimulation that’s synchronized with virtual reality/augmented reality and it’s all stored in a backpack. When the patient is wearing the backpack, an ejected wand rests on their scalp and it can read a neural implant that’s located deep in the brain. The backpack’s monitors collect real-time data from the implant and can be synched up with additional gadgets such as a cap that reads surface brain activity, VR goggles that track eye movement, and a tool that monitors heart and breathing rates. 

In their study published in Neuron, the researchers found that not only is the device able to record detailed brain activity without the patient needing to stay still, but it’s able to collect the same data as an fMRI machine and activates the brain similarly to TMS.