Information technologies and informatics are becoming each day more essential to our life, infiltrating into every knowledge area. These subjects have merged with biomedicine leading to bioinformatics and bioengineering, which allows us to address biological matters from another point of view and develop new equipment to improve research, diagnosis and treatment.
Since 2014 eVIA (platform for health technologies and active and independent life) announces the INNOVA eVIA awards, aimed at SMB and entrepreneurs. These awards are part of Aemetic, representative management of the digital technology industry in Spain. This year a bioengineer and neuroscience SMB has stood out: Newmanbrain. It’s a science and technology-based company dedicated to developing software and hardware aimed at biomedical solutions to neuroscience problems. It’s located in Miguel Hernández University’s scientific park, in Elche, Spain. Newmanbrain’s finalist position means a relevant boost to the company.
“Being among the best in the sector of technology applied to neuroscience and to receive recognition for our efforts is a great satisfaction for our team.” Pablo Belmonte, CEO of the spin-off Newmanbrain.
An unsolved problem in science is the correlation between the activity of the different cerebral areas and mental functions as thoughts, emotions, sensations and motor functions. The system developed by Newmanbrain makes easier to evaluate cerebral processes in human beings since childhood to old age. This evaluation is based in two key products: fNIR BrainSpy 28 and EEG WaveSpy 8.
fNIR BrainSpy 28: Measurement and registration of cerebral function system
fNIR BrainSpy 28 is a wearable neuroimaging device capable of measuring metabolical activity changes in specific brain areas during different mental processes. Works with Near infra-red (NIR) functional spectroscopy, being capable of measuring cerebral activity through hemodynamic responses associated with neural activity. It’s made up of 28 channels (16 bits per channel resolution) which fully monitor the prefrontal cortex, measuring oxygenation changes (oxyhaemoglobin, deoxyhaemoglobin and total haemoglobin).
¿What do we measure with fNIR BrainSpy 28?
As a wireless wearable, it allows for its use outside a laboratory and provides the patient with movement freedom. It can be used to evaluate cognitive and emotional functions in healthy subjects and patients with different pathologies like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or neurodegenerative diseases. It can also evaluate workers and sportsmen and can be an interesting choice for an educational use with neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry students.
EEG WaveSpy 8: A multimodal device for psychophysiological evaluation
EEG WaveSpy 8 is a wireless and portable electroencephalography equipment that performs additional measures to an electroencephalogram, like electrocardiogram and respiratory rate. It’s useful for medical research and cognitive, affective and educational diagnosis. This technology can be combined with fNIR BrainSpy 28 in order to perform a co-register of neuroelectric, haemodynamic and anatomic responses underlying mental processes.
Near infra-red functional spectroscopy (fNIR)
Neuroimaging has been key to understanding cerebral functions. The most common techniques since today are functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and electroencephalography. Nevertheless, fNIR is an emerging technology based on near infra-red light to measure changes in oxyhaemoglobin and deoxyhaemoglobin concentration in the cerebral cortex, with a temporal resolution of seconds and a spatial resolution of centimetres.
Neural activity requires energy obtained through glucose metabolism, driving to an increase of oxygen and glucose consumption. As a result, local bloodstream and cerebral blood volume are increased. The increase of bloodstream provides with more glucose and oxygen to the area in excess. fNIR technology is able to measure these changes in oxygenation at the target region. Besides, biological tissues absorb a minimum of NIR light, thus it can penetrate several centimetres through the tissue. Oxyhaemoglobin, as well as deoxyhaemoglobin, have characteristic optic properties when exposed to NIR, which allows for its measure.
This technology does not predict oxygen and haemoglobin concentration, but measures relative changes between these parameters as a reflection of relative changes in neural activity as a response to a specific stimulus, which allows to a functional estimation.
How close are we to visualize our own thoughts and sensations… And to gain access to the «other’s ones»? And what purpose are we going to give to this new cognitive register and communication framework?
From Inspira, we ask ourselves how close is the era of democratized telepathy, of coffee shops designed as a place to exchange dreams or the possibility to transfer sensations while experiencing new ones like interplanetary travels or exploration of the ocean depths. A NEW PERIOD is yet to come, and we will attend its progress.