Cortical Metrics, a spin out company based on research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is making headlines for a radical new technology that it has developed for assessing brain health, and in particular, concussion. The partnership between the company and University researchers has resulted in a unique device, called Brain Gauge, which will soon be on the market. Brain Gauge measures changes in information processing in the brain and delivers rapid, reliable, objective assessments of brain health at a very low cost. The device, which looks similar to a computer mouse and is able to connect to any desktop or laptop, delivers mechanical vibrations to two finger tips and queries the individual on a laptop or tablet about what they feel. The method takes advantage of the relationship between the nerves in the finger tips and the interactions that take place in the individual’s brain that result from the vibration. These interactions in the brain characteristically deteriorate with the severity of the concussion and improve with the patient’s recovery. Although the science is based on a large number of complex interactions between these two areas, the research team has effectively made an easy to use test – similar to a game – with easy to interpret results. Some of the tests evoke illusions which make it difficult for healthy individuals to perform well, but because the illusions depend on specific brain mechanisms being intact, the illusions have little or no impact on individuals with neurological traumas (such as concussion or TBI) or neurological disorders (such as migraine, autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, etc.).
Based on 30+ years of scientific research and 10+ years of technological developments, the methods are providing extremely robust results for differentiating concussed from non-concussed individuals, and the research is receiving support from the NFL/GE Head Health Challenge and the Office of Naval Research’s BLAST program.
Cortical Metrics’ co-founders Bob Dennis and Mark Tommerdahl are both members of the faculty of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
See more about Brain Gauge in this news report and accompanying video from Raleigh NBC affiliate WNCN.