Wednesday, March 3
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A portable brain-monitoring device to tackle mental health issues – The Hindu

By using a technology known as electroencephalography (EEG) that measures patterns of electrical activity in the brain, the device will help collect and interpret data to be used as an objective measurement of depression.

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Alphabet’s experimental research group, X, has developed a portable brain-monitoring hardware to help researchers track people’s changing mental health states over time.

By using a technology known as electroencephalography (EEG) that measures patterns of electrical activity in the brain, the device will help collect and interpret data to be used as an objective measurement of depression.

The device prototype sits on the head like a swim cap, and is developed by a team of neuroscientists, hardware and software engineers, and project experts. The team had worked on X’s Project Amber for three years.

“Amber’s system can be used to collect resting state EEG and event-related potentials with our software that time-locks a task to the EEG measurement,” Obi Felton, head, X lab, said in a blog post.

By designing specific game-like tasks to measure brain activity using EEG, the scientists found that brain response after a win in the game was subdued in people who were depressed, compared to those who weren’t.

“Many clinicians asked if they could send the EEG system home so their patients and clients could repeat the test on their own,” Felton said.

They were also very interested in EEG’s potential predictive qualities such as predicting who is likely to get more depressed in future, she added.

The company said it plans to make the technology available to the mental health community by publishing the code behind its hardware and software designs. It has also pledged free use of its patents and applications listed in the patent pledge.

For now, the Amber EEG system is a prototype device and is yet to be evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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