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This device may nudge your brain into deep sleep

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Shijing Zhou, Laboratory Manager at Brain Electrophysiology Lab, wears a geodesic head web device for high-resolution EEG collection. The company is also working on experimental electrode caps to help with deep sleep.  (The Washington Post Reanash)
Shijing Zhou, Laboratory Manager at Brain Electrophysiology Lab, wears a geodesic head web device for high-resolution EEG collection. The company is also working on experimental electrode caps to help with deep sleep. (The Washington Post Reanash)

Uses the current flowing through the scalp and skull to help the brain wash away harmful waste products during deep sleep

As he prepares for sleep every night, Don Tucker slides on the electrode cap and checks a small computer on the bedside table. Many workers in private laboratories run by Professor Emeritus of the University of Oregon follow the same routine.

The experimental equipment monitors night voyages during sleep. After sensing light sleep for a few minutes, it applies an electric current to the scalp and skull, pushing the brain into its nirvana, known as deep sleep.

The goal is not just a restful sleep. Breakthrough discoveries made over the last decade have revealed that the brain has a power-washing system that switches to high gear during deep sleep and flushes away harmful waste products. This nightly cleanup is part of sleep resilience and restores concentration, memory and athletic performance.

However, as we grow older, this cleansing system becomes smoother, leaving some of the metabolic detritus of the day, including the amyloid beta protein found in plaques that characterize Alzheimer’s disease and other catastrophic neuropathy. May start.

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This previously unknown 2012 amazing revelation of brain infrastructure — dubbed Glymp system — We have opened up a new era of research and invention not only in sleep, but also in aging, dementia, and brain damage. Last year, about 300 research papers on the glymphatic system were published.

One of those research paths leads to inventions in Tucker’s lab and his bedstand. This is called AugNOD, a diastolic neural oscillation driver. In the prototype, the toll road transponder looks like a particularly tough orthodontic appliance fixed at the top. A sophisticated, smaller version is in the works.

Tucker’s device aims to accelerate its overnight wash cycle by extending the length of deep sleep. One day he hopes to literally become something that people use widely to clean his head. “It’s a way to keep your brain young,” said Tucker, 75.

When scientists saw the mouse’s head glowing, they knew the discovery was great.

The US military is interested. October, The Pentagon has awarded Tucker, the University of North Carolina, and several partner universities $ 4.25 million. Exploring possible military applications of devices for restoring mental sharpness to sleep-deprived soldiers on the battlefield.

Jeffrey Iriff, a member of the University of Washington School of Medicine’s research team, said within five years, consumer devices could enable anyone to track deep sleep that cleanses the brain. ..

“And within the next seven years, we’ll see approaches that can start tuning, such as this device and some pharmacological approaches,” Iriff said. “In this area, I think things are starting to move very rapidly as work begins to move into groups of humans.”

Irif occupies an important place in the history of sleep science.He was the lead author Some papers I started explaining it in 2012 Lymphatic system that rubs the brainBased on work done at the University of Rochester with Principal Investigators Maiken Nedergaard..

Brains wash away toxic waste products during sleep, including proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, mouse studies find

When Iriff joined the lab as a postdoc, Nederguard said he set him on a course to answer protracted questions about how fluids move through the brain. What they found was another plumbing system that was hidden behind the scenes, wrapping the blood vessels in the head and pushing fluid into the brain.

In part, by looking into a small hole in the skull of a mouse, scientists have found that human brain cells contract during deep sleep, and this fluid soars between them to give each cell a bath. Suppose you want to create a space.

It washes away harmful waste proteins produced by the brain. This is a tireless metabolic engine that runs 24 hours a day.

According to Iriff, the amount of fluid flowing around a cell can be measured with a thimble. But scientists have discovered that it is the key to human well-being.

“We believe this is associated not only with Alzheimer’s disease, but also with all types of neuroimmunological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and neurovascular disorders such as traumatic brain damage and stroke,” Iriff said. Says. “There is evidence that it is related to headaches. There is evidence that it may be involved in mood disorders and other neuropsychiatric states such as depression and bipolar disorder.”

“In reality, it seems to be much more basic and basic than we thought,” Iriff said.

Sleep-especially the electrical score that the brain regenerates every night-is central to the process.

All types of sleep, from light to deep sleep, rapid eye movements or REM sleep, are characterized by distinct patterns of brain waves. This has been eavesdropped by scientists on EEG records for almost a century.

The deepest sleep just before REM produces slow brain waves, organizes and preserves the memory of the day, and helps start the grintic wash cycle in high gear.

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EEG tests show that as people get older, they spend less time on deep sleep and more time on light sleep.

“Many people fall asleep into hell after the age of 30,” Tucker said. “I think it can explain much of the memory loss of older people. It starts at the age of 30. It doesn’t have to get older.”

Tucker has been working on these issues for decades and in 1992 founded a company that pioneered high-definition brain waves worn like wired hairnets. Its company, Electrical Geodesics, was acquired by Philips in 2017 for approximately $ 37 million.

His new company, Brain Electrophysiology Lab, in Eugene, Oregon, aims not only to monitor but also influence the electrical activity of the brain. This work emulates discoveries from laboratories around the world that have begun to guide the brain from one stage of sleep to another with very little current.

These artificial impulses mimic what the head produces during deep sleep, and the brain follows their lead and begins to produce these slower brain waves, plunging into the deepest areas of sleep.

“When you change the current through your head, the neurons naturally synchronize with it,” Tucker said.

Tucker and colleagues published a small peer-reviewed study last May that increased deep sleep time by an average of 13% by giving snoozing subjects a small electric pulse for 5 minutes at a time. ..He said it was enough to start making A more effective brain to organize memory and eliminate waste..

Applying a small amount of electricity, called transcranial electrical stimulation, to the brain is not new. With a drastic review in 2017 Seems safePlease note that there are no serious side effects in the more than 18,000 sessions included in the study. It has been advertised for providing many potential neurological benefits, many of which have not been proven.

“Given the amount of research and the amount of media attention devoted to transcranial electrical stimulation, it has not actually been converted to an FDA-approved home device for various indications,” the University of Pennsylvania said. And one of the authors of safety research.

Determining whether a Tucker device can effectively dial up a brain cleaning system is complicated by how difficult it is to monitor the behavior of the grintic system.

Swati Rane Levendovszky, a member of the research team and professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, has developed MRI techniques for observing and measuring the speed and flow of fluids that wash the brain. If successful, the technique can indicate whether the Tucker device will increase its flow.

She also said that one day doctors may be able to help assess patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. “All of this is related to the inability to remove one toxic protein in the brain, and Glymptics is associated with it,” says Levendovszky.

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Beyond diagnosis, Dawn Kernagis, a neuroscientist and co-leader of the project at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said the project would assess the potential to help these conditions.

“If this device is affected, we can see some really positive effects in the population with an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease,” says Kernagis.

“Faster recovery”

Christopher Steele, director of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, has appealed to the Army for possible broader applications, as well as improving the readiness of sleep-deprived soldiers and helping to heal injured soldiers. rice field.

In the Pentagon’s case, “The Glymp system provides an opportunity to understand how chronic stressors are built over time, but insights into faster recovery from certain types of brain damage. We may also offer, “says Steele.

The Army is funding a parallel project that is also attempting to develop a brain purification device led by Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and Houston Methodist Hospital.

As the military research project progresses, another company founded by Tucker is working to initiate a consumer version of his cap’s Food and Drug Administration trial to increase deep sleep. (Other members of the research team have no financial stake in Tucker’s device or his company.)

“I want to be a consumer of this sleep treatment device,” Tucker said. “For the next decade, we want to make sure we can maintain the best possible functionality for older people.”

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