World-first brain scan technology for cochlear implant patients

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Sydney medical researchers have cracked a puzzle that's defeated them for 30 years, and developed brain scan technology for people with cochlear implants.

Cochlear implants were developed three decades ago, but scientist haven’t been able to get a clear view of how they work on brains - until now.

Macquarie University Chief Investigator, Blake Johnson, told SBS traditional brain scanning techniques don't work with cochlear implants for two reasons.

"The cochlear implants are made of materials that interfere with the scans," he said.

"And secondly the cochlear implants generate their own signals that overlap with and interfere with the measurement of brain signals."

The machine uses superconducting quantam interferences devices, or SQUID, and the brain signals they measure are so tiny, scientists liken them to the footsteps of ants on a football field.

Researchers hope it will lead to even more advances, and give new hope to people with hearing loss. 

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