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Medical Cybernetics based on Advanced Information Technology

Photo:Makoto Yoshizawa

Makoto Yoshizawa
Professor
Advanced Information Technology Research Division, Information Synergy Center, Tohoku University
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The Information Synergy Center (ISC) at Tohoku University was established on 1 April 2001 by combining the Computer Center and the Education Center for Information Sciences at Tohoku University. The ISC has five research divisions:

  1. Information Network Systems Research Division
  2. Supercomputing Systems Research Division
  3. Academic Information Research Division
  4. Information and Computer Literacy Research Division
  5. Advanced Information Technology Research Division

Our laboratory, the Advanced Information Technology Research Division, is using the synergetic effects of advanced information technology to accelerate innovations in biomedical engineering. We hope to integrate ultra-high-speed computing, large-scale networking, high-security communication, and intelligent databases to promote medical cybernetics and medical informatics.

Our main research is in the following areas:

  1. Studying and controlling the cardiovascular system
  2. Intelligent rehabilitation using virtual reality
  3. Assessment of the biological effects of visual stimulation

Within these areas, we are performing collaborative research with the following four departments:

  1. The Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer
  2. The Graduate School of Medicine
  3. The New Industry Creation Hatchery Center
  4. The Graduate School of Engineering

Our current research focuses on five areas.

1.Real-time, low-invasive estimation of cardiac function based on solutions of the inverse problem to develop a noninvasive method for estimating the indices of cardiac function, Emaxand PVA, based on mathematical and hemodynamic models using noninvasive information on radial arterial pressure, peripheral vascular diameter, aortic pressure, and so on.

2.The development of new intelligent control devices and algorithms for monitoring artificial hearts. Recently, we proposed a method for estimating the pressure head and blood flow of a continuous-flow artificial heart. This method should contribute to reducing the number of sensors, which will prove useful for developing a fully implantable artificial heart.

3.Rehabili-informatics network systems; the development of integrated information network systems related to the rehabilitation of motor dysfunction. Rehabili-informatics will increase the efficiency of rehabilitation by using information and communication technology.

4.Medical applications for virtual reality systems. This involves two studies. One is to develop a virtual reality system for neurological testing and rehabilitation of the upper limbs of patients with motor dysfunction caused by brain diseases or spinal cord injury. The system provides a 3D virtual space with visual, somatic sense displays, and a measurement system of visual line. This is useful for testing multisensory processing functions and for motivating patients undergoing rehabilitation. The second study concerns the development of another virtual reality system for rehabilitating lower limbs with motor dysfunction, based on a pedal-driven wheelchair (the cycling chair) that our group recently developed.

5.Analysis of the biological effects of visual stimulation using circulatory system indices. This includes the development of new methods to prevent adverse effects of visual stimulation, such as the epileptic seizures caused by events such as the Pokemon incident, or motion sickness. The maximum cross-correlation coefficient between blood pressure and heart rate, ρmax, is a good index for evaluating the effects of visual stimulation on humans. However ρmaxrequires expensive, bulky equipment to measure blood pressure continuously. The study has developed a more compact, cheaper device, which measures arterial pulse wave transmission times, instead of blood pressure, in subjects watching soothing or distressing images.

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The purpose of our laboratory, the Advanced Information Technology Research Division, is to accelerate innovations in biomedical engineering by applying the synergetic effects of advanced information technology. We hope to integrate ultrahigh-speed computing, large-scale networking, high-security communication, and intelligent database technology to promote medical cybernetics and medical informatics.

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