Alcohol abuse can degrade health, cause accidents, and. reduce productivity. Alcohol consumption can cause acute behavioral slowing and difficulties concentrating. Since the relation between blood alcohol and behavioral impairment differs across individuals, increased understanding of the functional impact of alcohol might be obtained through more direct assessment of the effect of alcohol on the human brain. At present there is no convenient way to gauge the effect of alcohol on brain activity, especially in individuals performing real world tasks or approximations thereof such as simulated driving or flight. Recent technological and scientific advances imply the feasibility of a breakthrough technology, the Neurolyzer, specifically designed for routine, automated measurement of the brain's response to alcohol during complex task performance. Like blood-breath alcohol meters that gauge the amount of alcohol consumed, the Neurolyzer will provide a measure of the effect of alcohol on the brain. It will be embodied in an economical, highly-automated system for recording and analyzing the impact of alcohol on neurophysiological brain function signals that outputs a frequently updated index of the neuromodulatory effects of alcohol. It will embody accumulated expertise about analysis of EEG signals into automated software that will reduce the labor required to extract such information by several orders of magnitude, making direct measurements of brain activity available to alcohol researchers conveniently and inexpensively. The Phase I work demonstrated the feasibility of automatically measuring the neurophysiologic effects of alcohol in subjects operating a flight simulator program, and evaluated other critical signal processing issues. In Phase II we will refine our analysis procedures, implement a prototype system, validate the methods in the context of laboratory studies of acute and post-acute- alcohol effects, and deploy a prototype Neurolyzer system in the laboratory of a collaborating scientist for independent evaluation during operation of driving simulators. Although it is targeted at a small but critical research niche, the Neurolyzer is also a member of a family of brain function monitoring devices that have broad application in areas beyond alcohol research; as a result the project has good prospects for commercial success. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-D (11))
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Sorensen, Roger
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Sam Technology, Inc.
San Francisco
United States
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Gevins, Alan; Chan, Cynthia S; Jiang, An et al. (2013) Neurophysiological pharmacodynamic measures of groups and individuals extended from simple cognitive tasks to more ""lifelike"" activities. Clin Neurophysiol 124:870-80
Gevins, Alan; Chan, Cynthia S; Sam-Vargas, Lita (2012) Towards measuring brain function on groups of people in the real world. PLoS One 7:e44676