Scientists have designed a chip that can analyse changes in the brain.
The research is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip.
Professor Robert Kennedy and Dr Nicholas Cellar at the University of Michigan have made the sensor-chop which can monitor the levels of neurotransmitters at the levels actually found in living tissue.
Professor Kennedy said: "The device could be used by neuroscientists to study chemical changes associated with behaviour and disease."
The chip has been adapted to allow users to analyse brain chemicals remotely. Tiny samples of fluid are taken from the brain and flow into channels in the chip.
Once there, the molecules react to form fluorescent particles which can be separated and measured externally.
Professor Kennedy said: "The chip combines sampling, on-line analysis, high efficiency separation and low detection limits.
"It makes it possible to monitor chemicals in the complex environment of the central nervous system, with high selectivity and sensitivity over extended periods."
The team believe the chip could be used to assess brain damage in people with trauma injuries, since it could be used to look at small regions of the brain or probe multiple regions at once.
Professor Kennedy said: "It may also be a way of delivering drugs to particular brain regions."
Professor James Landers, an expert in bioanalytical chemistry at the University of Virginia, welcomed the findings.
He said: "Such integrated systems represent an important element in the future of analytical techniques that will be used to interrogate biological systems."
with thanks to Alison Stoddart for the original article
Chip to analyse changes in the brain
Picture: The Royal Society of Chemistry