High-end brain science technology of Ex-Brain improves cognitive functions such as memory and attention, and enhances mental health, learning, and more, in a user-friendly way.
It is extremely difficult to study brain activities, and that is not only because of the brain’s inherent intricacy. The human brain contains billions of neurons in hundreds or thousands of types that work together with trillions of connections. That is why it is greatly challenging to develop a technology that can measure its activities.
Neuroscientists already use different technologies to look into the skull in non-invasive ways. NeU Corporation’s professors have gone through many years of dedicated R&D to develop an immersive line-up of ultra-compact, multi-channel wearable optical topography devices (NIRS) to measure brain activity through cerebral blood flow changes in an extremely user-friendly approach.
In this article, we are going to learn a lot about NeU’s mission to help people measure their brain activity while doing different tasks to improve their cognitive functions.
What Does NeU Corporation Do?
Established in 2017, NeU Corporation is a brain science company that has been working to enhance the quality of life through brain science. They provide practical Neuro solutions with high-end brain science technology as a result of fusing the “cognitive brain science discoveries” at Tohoku University, Japan, with portable brain measurement technology of Hitachi’s High Tech.
NeU believes that it is critical to understand the state of our brains so they can contribute to enhancing the quality of our lives. This can lead to building a society that is actively engaged with the world around it. NeU significantly focuses on ways to maintain and extend healthy life expectancy, and improve mental health and overall cognitive functions of people’s brains in today’s global aging society.
What is Ex-Brain?
Ex-Brain is the “smallest and lightest brain activity measuring device,” as NeU describes it. It is an ultra-compact device that weighs only 30 grams (battery included) and comes in 80x40x13 millimeters dimensions. Ex-Brain is equipped with a butterfly-style design that allows it to bend from the middle to fit everyone’s forehead appropriately.
Ex-Brain uses Bluetooth 4.1LE technology to get connected to any smartphone or tablet. It measures your brain activity in real-time and transfers the data to your personal smartphone or tablet. Ex-Brain is equipped with a lithium-ion battery that allows you to use the device for almost 3 hours continuously anywhere you are.
To measure brain activity, Ex-Brain uses Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) technology. Through this method, the rate of the brain’s blood flow is measured using weak near-infrared light.
NeU’s brain activity measuring device comes with a 6-axis accelerometer that is responsible for detecting the head’s movements and body movement noise. Ex-Brain blends multiple parameters to create measurement indexes with advanced accuracy that was never possible before.
Some applications of Ex-Brain include:
• Cognitive function training
• Movement+cognitive function training
• Stress coping
• Utilization of IoH (Internet of Humans)
Brain Training with Neurofeedback
Structured and repeated brain training practice will lead to the improvement of cognitive functions. Numerous studies have been conducted on the impacts of brain training so far. Although the results have been rather mixed, they show a positive relation between enhanced brain activities during brain training and improved cognitive functions.
That is why NeU’s team was voracious to discover whether brain training with higher brain activity via neurofeedback can improve cognitive performance. NeU Corporation’s professors have recently developed a new training method involving neurofeedback that allows users to use their Ex-Brain device to monitor their brain activity as they perform tasks.
During the study, participants were divided into three groups:
• Group 1: Received brain training with neurofeedback
• Group 2: Received brain training only
• Group 3: Asked to play a puzzle game for 20 minutes a day for 4 weeks
Through the study, the participants’ processing speed, memory span, and attention were trained by doing three different games in each category. The study obviously showed better results for the first group which was taking advantage of neurofeedback. They could see their brain performance and easily increase their activity according to their response.
“We found that participants who did brain training with neurofeedback showed considerable improvements in episodic memory, working memory, and attention. Our discovery points to the fact that greater brain activity during brain training is an important factor for improving cognitive functions.”
— Associate Professor Rui Nouchi, leader of the research group, Tohoku University
Nouchi deeply believes that more engagement while brain training can be the key to unlocking its advantages. Details of the findings of the NeU’s team study have been published in the journal of Brain Sciences.
NeU and Brain Training in the U.S.
In 2023, NeU aims to initiate a brain training service, called THINKIE, for elderly care facilities in the U.S. to maintain and improve cognitive functions. Through this service, users will wear NeU’s ultra-compact brain activity sensor (similar to Ex-Brain). The sensor comes with a brain training game app, developed by NeU, that shows their brain activity and numeric results in real-time.
The sensor is placed and held on the forehead with a headband before getting connected to a tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth. When the user plays with the game app, the amount of brain activity changes and is measured by the sensor so the user can see their brain performance while being challenged by the puzzles in the game.
The sensor is about the size of a business card and measures the rate of blood flow change using weak near-infrared light. Users can see how much their brain has been stimulated during playtime so they can set monthly targets and train every day, leading to the improvement of their cognitive functions. In addition to that, a “brain age” check is measured on a monthly basis to motivate users to improve their scores and get an idea of their progress.
The development of new technologies that aim to promote health and disease prevention has been on the rise in the U.S. recently. The elderly facilities in the U.S. are currently ready to accept new technologies and devices. People are highly aware of the disease prevention benefits and are willing to pay for using new services such as THINKIE and Ex-Brain.