Cool brain-computer interfacing that would be useful in dementia

I decided to make this a separate post from the other I have written on wearable technologies in dementia care. These technologies, while super cool and having really interesting implications for understanding dementia, are less suitable for a person with dementia to be wearing as part of their daily life. But they do have some great implications for clinical use to get some insight into how a brain with dementia functions the same or differently than other brains.

InteraXon Muse – Worn on head. The InteraXon Muse is a mental activity tracking device that helps reduce stress and settle the mind.

The device uses 7 sensors that are applied to the occipital lobes. Once in place, they record brain activity which is then translated into actionable data and sent to a tablet, smartphone or computer. Muse uses sensors to pick up the tiny electrical outputs generated by your brain’s activity.  As you shift  between states like concentration and relaxation, Muse’s algorithms detect the subtle changes in your brain and show you those changes in real time, just like a heart rate monitor can provide information about your physical activity.

Muse helps apprehending and managing emotions to improve cognitive well-being, more specifically concentration and composure. These signals can be used in a number of ways. Right now, you can see your brainwaves in action and use that information to improve and strengthen your mind.  In the future, InteraXon is looking to use these brainwaves to interact with devices in the real world–devices that respond to your thoughts like turning off your smart phone when you are asleep or turning off the TV.

While I see a lot of implications and potential benefits for being able to monitor and improve emotional and mental well-being, I don’t envision many current older adults with dementia wearing this headband for long periods of time. And at $300, this might be more affordable for research or rehabilitation than for personal use at home.

Emotiv Insight will allow you to optimize your brain fitness and performance, measure and monitor your own or your family’s cognitive health & wellbeing, and develop amazing new brain-computer interface (BCI) applications.
Insight measures and tracks 8 different key brain states: attention, focus, engagement, interest, excitement, affinity, relaxation and stress levels. These are also in the range of emotions someone with dementia experiences, but they may have increasing difficulty understanding and expressing it. At least from a research perspective, I think this has a lot of application for dementia care and being able to accomodate the care to the person’s mood, such as with Ambient Assisted Living.
The Emotiv Insight will also be capable of detecting facial expressions such as blinks, winks, frowns, surprise, clenches, and smiles. This has some obvious benefits in dementia care, either as carers to gain a better understanding of the moods and cognitive functions, and also for researchers/health professionals who want to understand the behavioral and psychological patterns that accompany dementia. This is the next generation of the BCI technology that allows paralyzed individuals to drive their wheelchair or to type, so it has some great potential!!
Insight is fully compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, Linux and Windows Platforms – it has a software program that allows you to look at all the fun stuff it is recording. In dementia care, this means you could also have a view of how their brain AND their moods are changing over time. This has implications for adjusting medications and level of care as well.

EmotiveThey reached their Kickstarter goal and will launch the product in Summer 2015 at $299. The video on their Kickstarter page is pretty exciting (for me!), check it out here:

Neumitra develops embedded biomodules (biological components) to accurately and continuously measure the autonomic nervous system throughout daily life demands. We use mobile software to link contextual data, such as events, locations, and activities, with the physiology of stress and sleep toward self-managing symptoms and identifying their causes. Population health predictors isolate how environments and cultures across locations and professions drive risk factors for chronic health conditions. Medical research has long linked excessive stress to a host of physical and mental health concerns. Neumitra’s mission is a validated stress score to quantify daily brain health. We are dedicated to helping people measure and manage the effects of daily life demands on their brain health and performance. Today, less sleep, worse nutrition, and sparse exercise is a seen as a necessary consequence of too much work. By measuring how the the autonomic nervous system is affected by daily stressors, we aim to establish through extensive physiological data how our brain health and performance results from the lives we lead.
Bandu by Neumitra measures the autonomic nervous system, which is associated with the effects of stress including perspiration, respiration, and cardiology. The current version monitors your skin conductance, movement, and temperature. When you become stressed, bandu alerts to you to take a break. You can listen to a favorite song or play a fun game. You can even call a trusted friend, just stand up to stretch or even meditate. The results are shown right on your smartphone in real-time so you can monitor your stress level, see when it rises, and determine the people, places, and things that help you feel better. And over time, Bandu automatically learns what works.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any pricing information, but check out their website for more information and to inquire about purchasing.
Check out a video on Bandu here:

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