In this Phase I STTR project Koronis Biomedical Technologies (KBT) in close collaboration with the Zelazo Lab at the University of Minnesota proposes to develop an electroencephalography (EEG) based neurocognitive training tool to enable individuals to improve neurocognitive processes associated with executive function (EF). Processes involved in self-control and goal-directed problem solving referred to as Executive Function play an instrumental role in learning and comprise a key protective system for academic resilience in high-risk children. Shortcomings in Executive Function have a higher prevalence in low social economic status children and are correlated to higher rates of incarceration, substance abuse, and lower academic performance. Neurocognitive training is a form of biofeedback in which real-time measures of brainwave activity are presented to the individual to enable them to willfully control their current mental state. Gamma states (EEG activity above 30Hz) in addition to Beta wavelengths will be detected on the frontal scalp and used to drive custom hardware to provide instantaneous feedback through an innovative mode of action. It is hypothesized that high frequency activity in the prefrontal area is associated with processes implicated in executive function. Advantages of the proposed product when compared to existing commercial EEG-based feedback devices on the market are the following: Executive Function (EF) is the target which has not been the case previously;feedback mode of action is independent of video games and video consoles;device can be used during reading, listening and real-world activities that should greatly improve generalizability and sustainability of improvements to real-world skills and behaviors;improvements in EF will be confirmed with standardized assessments from NIH toolbox and other validated peer-reviewed measures as opposed to subjective parent/teacher ratings. The feasibility of the system will be evaluated in this Phase I project by pursuing four specific aims: 1) Construct a prototype EEG neurocognitive training system for Executive Function improvement;2) Develop a neurocognitive training regimen consisting of a program of diverse and engaging activities for children and young adolescents;3) Conduct a pilot human study to assess whether it is possible to increase relative gamma power and other wavelengths over the frontal scalp using EEG neurocognitive training;and 4) use the NIH Toolbox Cognition measures to assess whether improvements are seen in behavior (esp. EF), and whether they are correlated with increases in gamma power or other wavelength patterns. The results from this Phase I project will be used to design a portable prototype to evaluate in clinical studies and to validate and verify requirements of a refined product design for the clinical, school and learning center markets to improve executive function in children.
Neurocognitive processes involved in self-control and goal-directed problem solving referred to as executive function play an instrumental role in learning and comprise a key protective system for resilience in high-risk children. Neurofeedback based on electroencephalography signatures correlated with these neurocognitive processes may provide powerful tools to aid in the development of these cognitive processes and the managing of healthy behaviors. Shortcomings in executive function are characteristic of children with a variety of disorders (e.g., ADHD, Conduct Disorder, autism) and are correlated with higher rates of incarceration, substance abuse, and lower academic performance.