Did You Know?: HHS machines

March 14, 2013  


A Purdue research subject gets a precise measurement of his body composition inside the BOD POD. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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Researchers in the College of Health and Human Sciences often maintain their scientific cutting edge using a variety of helpful machines, many of which look downright futuristic.

The machines vary from a body composition measurer that looks like a miniature space vehicle to a cap that can record the brain's activity to eyeglasses that can track what the wearer reads to a high-tech -- and ultrarealistic -- patient simulator.

For example, the BOD POD is a single-person capsule that uses air displacement to measure body composition precisely. Purdue researchers who study the health benefits of diet and exercise employ the BOD POD, which is used worldwide in university and other types of research.

Additionally, the cap that can record brain activity boasts about two dozen electrodes attached to its outside. The entire device is called an event-related potentials technique, and it records electrical signals coming from the brain in response to different stimuli.

HHS cap

Courtney Rowland, a senior in the College of Health and Human Sciences, wears a cap that records electrical signals coming from the brain in response to different stimuli. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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"This technique allows us to see what the brain is doing on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis," says Natalya Kaganovich, who uses the device in her research. Kaganovich is an assistant professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences with a quarter-time appointment in psychological sciences.

Recording what wearers notice around them describes the capability of the Tobii eye-tracker, which resembles a pair of futuristic eyeglasses. The eye-tracker is used in consumer sciences classes to better understand what makes information eye-catching.

To gather this data, the eye-tracker records what the wearer sees while tracking the pupil's movements and recording data about the things on which it lands. Researchers in the Department of Consumer Science -- such as Sugato Chakravarty, professor, and Meghan Norris, assistant professor -- also are using the eye-tracker to investigate what people tend to look at as they navigate their environments.

Other machines used to enhance students' education are the several high-fidelity simulators the School of Nursing uses. These simulators, which resemble a patient in a bed, have voices, pulses, programmable vital signs, and heart, lung and bowel sounds.

Students are video recorded while performing nursing care for these simulated patients. The debriefing process, guided by faculty, has been shown to enhance critical thinking and clinical decision making.

Writer: William Meiners, 49-66524, wmeiners@purdue.edu

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