Dr Cruse uses a technique called electroencephalography, or EEG, to record the small electrical signals produced by the brain. By looking at the ways in which these signals change in response to different types of events and tasks it is possible to begin to understand the way in which the human brain supports thought. In particular, Dr Cruse is interested in how the brain processes speech and memories.
Disorders of Consciousness
After a severe brain injury, some individuals progress into a state of disordered consciousness in which it is unclear whether they are conscious of themselves or their environments. Dr Cruse uses the methods of cognitive electrophysiology to determine what mental processes these patients possess, and applies this information to form more appropriate diagnoses and prognoses.
Some types of brain injury leave individuals conscious but unable to move or communicate. By combining cognitive electrophysiology and a branch of computer science known as machine-learning, Dr Cruse aims to create communication devices that are driven entirely by the thoughts of the user.
Predicting Recovery from Coma
In the days and weeks immediately following a severe brain injury, difficult decisions must be made about how to continue medical care. However, it is challenging for clinicians to accurately predict the extent to which a patient will recover. By identifying bedside markers of residual brain function, Dr Cruse aims to better-inform these critical care decisions.