Dr. Nehai Farraj
C-Loop: EEG-tACS closed loop system for enhancing cognition and learning
The main objective of the current project is to build an innovative non-invasive stimulation device to harness real-time neural activity for enhancing cognitive functions and accelerating learning processes.
Neuroscience-based technologies have been widely used for enhancing cognitive performance in healthy humans and treating psychiatric disorders in the clinic. For example, noninvasive brain stimulation (including TMS, tDCS, and peripheral nerve stimulation) is used to alter cortical activity and excitability to improve a wide range of processes from implicit motor learning to depression disorders. However, during these procedures the researchers use the same stimulation protocol across all participants and all sessions. Furthermore, the brain stimulation does not include an online measurements of the brain activity during task engagement, but it is usually conducted before the task. Therefore, we propose a new and interdisciplinary approach combining techniques and perspectives from neuroscience (EEG - Electroencephalography; tACS - transcranial direct-current stimulation), computer science (machine learning; signal processing), and behavioral science (learning measurements; psychophysics) in order to create a device for learning enhancement. The device will be designed to allow participant-tailored stimulation using an ongoing EEG-tACS closed-loop (CLoop) control strategy.
The current project will include three main stages:
Pre-treatment assessment in which each subject will complete a task involving solving mathematical problems similar to the quantitative part of the psychometric exam.
Stimulation stage in which we will measure subject’s brain activity using EEG and stimulate their brains' using tACS, while targeting and modifying neural activity in main brain regions, which are vital for quantitative thinking, attention and concentration.
Post-treatment assessment where subjects will perform a quantitative task similar to the one they took in the pre-treatment stage. We will examine if their test scores on the task improved compared to the pre-treatment and compared to a sham control group.
Our long-term goal is to develop an innovative technology that will give healthy adults a groundbreaking tool for enhancing learning without the sole reliance on pharmacological interventions.
I am highly interested in neuroscientific research that utilizes neuroimaging techniques with the aim of understanding where and how cognitive processes occur. Furthermore, I am interested in techniques that enable research dealing with real-time cognitive processes in the human brain in order to enhance them with neurofeedback and other brain stimulation methods.