The U.S. Department of Defense is funding a trial of a device to help speed up and enhance the natural cleansing system that our brains use during sleep.
Science has shown that the glymphatic system cleanses the brain during sleep.
The technology being used is called Augmented Neural Oscillation Driver or ‘AugNOD’, and its aim is to improve glymphatic function through wireless, combined electro encephalography (EEG)/transcranial electrical stimulation headband that can be used during sleep to monitor and improve slow-wave sleep and glymphatic clearance.
The device was invented by Don Tucker, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon and BEL CEO, and scientists leading the effort are from the UW School of Medicine, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, the Brain Electrophysiology Lab, Oregon Health & Science University, and Montana State University.
Co-principal investigator Jeffrey Iliff, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, along with Maiken Nedergaard, a Danish neuroscientist, made the discovery of the glymphatic system
Iliff said the biology is straightforward: cerebral spinal fluid surrounds the brain, and as we sleep, fluid washes through brain cells and supports clearance of different wastes.
Scientists think this glymphatic function is at the heart of the restorative power of sleep and that sleep problems disrupt the glymphatic system, potentially causing long-term negative effects on the brain.
The Department of Defense is funding this three-year, $4.3-million project, dubbed “Augmented Neurophysiology of Sleep and Performance Readiness,” to help solve the problem of acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction.
This will be the first human trial, and it will be carried out among 90 people at three trial sites – University of Washington School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, and collaboration between Oregon Health & Science University and the Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory.
The research team will use an imaging and analysis system to measure glymphatic exchange of fluids when individuals are given a mixture containing contrasting agents, which could potentially teach us a lot about a critical system for short and long-term brain health.