Chester, Pa. – Dr. Xiaomu Song, associate professor of electrical engineering at Widener University in Chester, Pa., received the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant of $91,500 from the National Science Foundation, which supported the acquisition of a neural recording system that integrates electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRs) to enhance multidisciplinary research.

The system will benefit faculty research from an interdisciplinary perspective at Widener, as it can be used in biomedical and electrical engineering, computer science, and neuropsychology.

“I hope that our departments can work together to develop multidisciplinary research and educational activities for our students” Song said. “Multiple research projects have already been proposed to investigate fundamental challenges in EEG-NIRs bimodal signal acquisition and its widespread applications in healthcare, medical instrument, and brain computer interface.” To develop the proposed projects, Song collaborated with faculty from different disciplines, including Dr. Suk-chung Yoon, professor of computer science, Dr. Zhongping Huang, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Dr. Kenneth, professor of clinical psychology.

The EEG is widely used to measure neural activity with a high temporal resolution but poor spatial specificity. The NIRs is a noninvasive optical imaging technique that measures concentration changes of deoxygenated hemoglobin and oxygenated hemoglobin during brain activity in superficial layers of the human cortex. According to Song, NIRs can measure metabolic changes associated with the neural activity with a higher spatial resolution than EEG, and this has prompted the effort to combine NIRs and EEG together to explore complementary information to each other.

“The bimodal system and associated research will advance our understanding of potential benefits from the combination of EEG and NIRs on different application fields,” Song said. “The study of data characteristics under the individual and combined modalities will generate new findings of data complexity, based on which novel data processing methods can be developed to perform artifacts removal, information fusion, adaptive learning and classification, and brain functional network mapping.”

At Widener, the new bimodal system will be used for the development of a bimodal brain computer interface, computer-aided diagnosis and treatment of symptom, and early diagnosis of sports-related concussion. The NIRs device will also be used to quantitatively evaluate a novel cooling device for targeted brain hypothermia, and to develop novel techniques to measure the flow distribution of a new hemodialysis machine.

“These research projects will generate quantitative results to justify expected improvement, and provide an extensible platform for future development of multimodal neuroimaging systems,” he said.

Song received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University. He is a senior member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.