European Union’s Information Society Technologies (IST) has awarded Nexstim Ltd., a company out of Finland, with the European IST Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in Europe. According to the press release, the award winning technology, called Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS), is “capable of measuring the functionality and health status of the central nervous system.”

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A non-invasive brain scanning technology, NBS uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (Medgadget search: TMS) to send a short strong magnetic pulse across the brain. With the help of specialized coils, the Nexstim system then is able to detect what areas of the brain are stimulated by the magnetic induction. The coils reconstruct the induced intracranial magnetic field, hence the technology seems to offer a possibility of future diagnostic use.

From the company’s website:

Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS) is a novel, non-invasive, and safe way to scan human brain. eXimia NBS controlled TMS stimulates the human brain with short magnetic field pulses. The targeted stimulation causes both local responses in the brain and widespread reactions reaching peripheral nerves. Diseases and trauma alter these responses before visible structural changes.

Nexstim’s NBS is the only equipment that shows the location of stimulation within the brain. The user can determine precisely the dose and location of each stimulus given to the patient. The stimulus dose and location can be repeated accurately, which is the prerequisite for medical practice.

The brain’s reaction to stimulation and neuronal connections can be monitored with simultaneous recording of brain’s electric activity by electroencephalography (EEG). Peripheral nerves are evaluated by electromyography (EMG), which characterizes the size of muscle movements and the delay from brain stimulation.

The combination of non-invasive targeting, dose definition, and monitoring the effects of brain stimulation provide unique window to the functioning central nervous system. NBS examinations benefit immediately routine clinical neurological diagnosis and presurgical evaluation in neurosurgery. Different pulse trains have shown great promise in the treatment of selected neurological and psychiatric disorders such as tinnitus, chronic pain, and depression.

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