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Checking brain health could soon be as easy as determining blood pressure

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An SFU researcher is hoping to develop a tool to test brain health

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How healthy is your brain? Has its health worsened over time?

An SFU researcher is hoping to develop a tool which will make answering those questions as easy as checking your blood pressure.

Professor and neuroscientist Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, along with partners from the Mayo Clinic, Sheba Medical Centre in Israel and HealthTech Connex Inc., have found a way to get useful information out of brainwaves.

“The way brain vital signs works, is that it’s focused on providing a basic number for how your brain works,” says D’Arcy. “Much like you can have 120/80 for blood pressure, or 60 beats per minute for your heart. The core research behind this takes advantage of over 70 years of research in the science realm that have found these key brain responses.”

“What we’ve done is turn that into a basic, simple number, and a procedure you can run in five minutes.”

The hope is this can lead to the development of a tool to measure changes to the health of a brain over time, especially after it’s damaged by injury or disease.

“What we’re looking at is, how we now take care of our brain, if we want to have our best brain health, or there’s a concern about a concussion, or you’re getting on in years and you’re worried about things like dementia,” says D’Arcy. “What this allows is your ability to monitor your brain function over time with a simple, basic, physiological number, so you know how your brain performance is, and you can measure if it’s, in the case of a concussion, if you’ve seen a change in your brain performance and in the case that you want to return back, if you see that your brain performance is back to its prior levels.

“It’s very a much a basic, vital sign on how your brain is working.”

Down the line, D’Arcy hopes it will be as easy to determine your brain health as it is to figure out your blood pressure.

You can read more about D’Arcy’s research in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.