The whole brain scanner has 49 channels. (Credit: University of Nottingham)

A new type of wearable brain scanner is revealing new possibilities for understanding and diagnosing mental illness after the technology has been expanded to scan the whole brain with millimeter accuracy.

Scientists have developed an initial prototype of a next generation of brain scanner. The lightweight device can be worn on the head like a hat and can scan the brain even while a patient moves. Their latest research has now expanded this to a fully functional 49 channel device that can be used to scan the whole brain and track electrophysiological processes that are implicated in a number of mental health problems.

Unlike the large cumbersome scanners where patients must remain very still, the wearable scanner allows the patient to move freely. A novel type of 3D printed helmet is key to the function of the 49-channel device. It can show the brain areas controlling hand movement and vision pinpointed with millimeter accuracy.

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