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AI-enabled Imaging, Emerging Imaging

Flights of fancy in ultra-high magnetic fields: matching virtual scenes to phantom motion perceptions

Project ID: 2023_039

1st Supervisor: Prof Jo Hajnal, King’s College London, Imperial College London
2nd Supervisor: Dr Shaihan Malik, King’s College London, Imperial College London
Clinical Supervisor: Dr Tomoki Arichi, King’s College London, Imperial College London 


Aims of the Project: 

  • Characterise rotation sensations experienced when moving in/out of ultra-high field (UHF) MRI systems
  • Explore correlations with otolith (motion sensing) organ anatomy
  • Create predictive models for these motion perceptions
  • Explore virtual reality based technologies to mitigate the induced motion sickness
  • Create a technology to make UHF MRI feasible for more patients


Lay Summary:

Ultra-high field Magnetic Resonance (UHF-MR) systems have the potential to offer great clinical and scientific benefit through ultra-high resolution images with enhanced sensitivity to subtle pathologies and unparalleled spectroscopic analysis due to increased spectral resolution and high signal to noise ratio. However, most people experience strong sensations of rotational motion when being moved into the magnet for scanning, despite the fact that they are undergoing a pure linear translation. This can cause sensations very similar to motion sickness, which is known to be exacerbated when there is a mismatch between physical sense perception of motion and the perceived visual scene. A particularly potent scenario is motion while in an enclosed space that appears static, such as when inside a boat or plane during turbulent conditions. The same effect occurs in reverse during some virtual reality game play when there is a strong visual presentation of movement that is not matched by the body’s motion sensing system, the otoliths. Pilot work in our group has shown that using virtual reality in combination with inertial sensors it is possible to match a virtual visual scene with physical motion and this can make motions more tolerable in aeroplanes and boats.

The discomfort associated with the transition into a UHF-MR systems is currently address by moving subjects very slowly. We hypothesise that:

  1. The perceived rotational motion in individual subjects is related to the anatomy of the semi-circular canals, which are the organs used to detect body rotations, and that individual differences will to some degree be related to differences in inner ear anatomy.
  2. That presenting subjects with moving visual scenes that match the motion sensations they perceive will diminish the discomfort experienced when being positioned for UHF-MR.
  3. That it is possible to build predictive models for the sensations individual subjects perceive when being moved into UHF-MR systems and that a virtual reality scene presentation system can be designed to automatically provide mitigation by creating harmonised visual and physical sense perceptions.

The aim of the project will be to address and test these hypotheses to develop technology that can make UHF-MR imaging and spectroscopy more accessible to a larger community for emerging healthcare applications and as a scientific research tool.


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