Emerging Technology Seeks to Unlock the Devastating Secrets of Brain Disorders

In The Villages®, An Emerging Technology Seeks to Unlock Alzheimer’s Devastating Secrets (and Other Brain Disorders)

What is normal brain function? That’s the basic, but highly complicated, question being asked by ElMindA – an Israeli-based research company founded in 2006 to address the unmet needs of people suffering from brain-related disorders.

For more than a decade, ElMindA has been perfecting a method to analyze brain function over time. Its solution – called BNA™ for Brain Network Activation – is designed to leverage machine-learning, advanced algorithms, and large-population databases to better understand how the brain’s neural networks are activated and inform about brain function.

Florida’s Friendliest Hometown steps in to help

First used to study the effects of concussions in younger people, ElMindA has since broadened its scope; turning its attention to the world’s aging population for disorders like depression and dementia. More specifically, Alzheimer’s Disease.

To find a large group of seniors needed for such studies, ElMindA crossed an ocean – partnering with the University of South Florida – to find a test group unlike any other in the world. They found this group in The Villages, Florida – the world’s largest retirement community.

As you look at people as they grow older, from a health perspective they are probably more afraid of losing their memory than they are of getting cancer,” says Dr. Jeffrey Lowenkron, Chief Medical Officer of The Villages Health – the health system which serves The Villages® retirement community.

At more than 125,000 residents and growing, the retiree population of The Villages provides the ideal pool of test subjects from all walks of life, to engage the BNA™ system for the promise it holds. In broad terms, what researchers are looking for is a way to identify a baseline for what can be defined as normal brain function. Then by continuing to study these same test subjects over time, they can study how their brain function changes over time. And in doing so, find ways to intervene with personalized treatments to help people as they age.

After a memory test, the test subject is fitted with an electrode net covering his or her head

The volunteer is then given a series of computer tasks to perform during an EEG recording. From there, a 3D representation of the brain can be created to show what the brain looked like when the volunteer was responding to the tasks.

The goal is to develop a baseline of what a healthy brain looks like. ElMindA says the results can give physicians:

  • Snapshot mapping of brain-network function in comparison to a healthy/normative group.
  • The ability to compare multiple tests over time.
  • Objective information to assist with better-informed medical decisions

Like most medical studies, this is a years long process. But unlike most control-group testing environments, … 

BNA™ allows researchers to study multiple therapies at once

This results in much faster discoveries that can be measured in years. Not decades.

After The Villages study is completed, more than 1,000 of its residents will have participated in the study, with full knowledge that anything discovered during these tests will more likely help later generations – rather than the lives of those participating in the study themselves.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama is introduced to ElMindA’s BNA™ technology during a visit to the Israel National Museum with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (March, 2013). Photo: Elminda

Last updated: 05.15.2018

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