Epilepsy is one of the most life-changing chronic conditions in the UK, affecting 1 among 100 persons at some point in their life. Information that could facilitate personalised monitoring and characterisation of this disease is an urgent, yet unmet, clinical need. The extraction of novel personalised brain activity markers in epilepsy, in the context of a better understanding of risk factors, could provide the basis for novel future interventions and public health strategies for primary and secondary prevention of developmental impairments and strategies to improve surgery planning. There are various modalities to monitor brain activity including electroencephalogram (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). While EEG is able to detect fast electrical activities on the surface of the brain, it has low spatial resolution which is required discriminate individual regions of the brain. NIRS uses optical properties of haemoglobin to determine blood oxygenation levels which are known to be correlated with neuronal activity in the brain. However, NIRS has lower temporal resolution due to relatively slow haemodynamic changes. Combining the two modalities will provide the benefit of fast temporal changes from EEG and higher spatial resolution from NIRS. An integrated EEG-NIRS sensor requires extremely low noise electronics due to the high-impedances of the EEG electrode and the optical detector. The sensor should have a small form factor and mechanically robust to be used in practical experiments. In addition such probe has the potential to be used in other applications including brain-computer interface (BCI) for rehabilitation and assistance to patients. If BCI technology is to succeed, it requires cheap, wearable and non-invasive sensors to monitor brain activity.
The project is carried out in conjunction with the paediatric neurosciences team at the Royal Hospital Sick Children, Edinburgh, and will include an internship in the Paediatric Neurosciences Unit.
Dr Javier Escudero, Dr Bonnie Auyeun, Prof Ian Underwood
Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.
Funding is not attached to this project. Applications are welcomed from students who are applying for, or have already secured, a Scholarship or similar, or who are able to self-fund.