NeuroVigil and Stanford begin home based Autism study

NeuroVigil's brain sensor will change the way neuroscience is done, allowing studies to be done in the comfort of the test subject's home. NeuroVigil is partnering with Stanford on a study about Autism.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Philip Low's brain sensor can technically replace your shrink. It can monitor your sleep patterns at home.

To get around the discomfort of hooking up volunteers to dozens of electrodes and wires, Low wanted a more portable solution - so he founded NeuroVigil and developed a device called the iBrain.

Simply put, the iBrain sensor is a single electrode device that can detect what was happening inside a person's brain.

Now, drug companies are using the iBrain to study the effects of drugs on the brain. But in the near future, the portable brain sensor could be used to identify a number of neurological conditions way before the symptoms ever show up.

NeuroVigil will work with Stanford researchers on a home-based Autism study to convert brain waves into an electric map of brain activity. The researchers will look at the data for sleep derived biomarkers associated with autism using a special computer program that can make sense of the brain's low intensity signals.

"Autistic children are sometimes a challenge to treat, especially in an unfamiliar environment. They often have disrupted sleep, including sleep seizures. Our technology makes it possible to monitor their brain patterns from the comfort of their home, over long time periods," said Low.

NeuroVigil is collaborating with professor Ruth O'Hara at Stanford's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. "This superb technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the discomfort of current testing procedures for both sleep and neurological patients," O'Hara said in a statement.

Recently, researchers at Yale School of Medicine, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the brain pattern associated with the disorder. The researchers found that children with autism exhibit three neural signatures. The researchers are hopeful knowing the pattern of brain activity will help lead to more accurate autism diagnosis.

While brain activity is very telling, researchers at University of California at Davis have found that children with autism have trouble fueling their brain with energy.

After the heart, the brain consumes the most energy. The signs of this problem can be found in the blood - which could potentially change the way the disorder is diagnosed.

"It is remarkable that evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction and changes in mitochondrial DNA were detected in the blood of these young children with autism... If we could screen for these metabolic problems with a blood test, it would be a big step forward," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, in a statement.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards