As our aging population increases, the incidence of mental health problems, memory issues, and cognitive disabilities increases as well. The World Health Organization predicts brain and cognitive health will cost $6 trillion annually by 2030. Early in 2016, we wrote that Cambridge Cognition and Ctrl Group joined forces to develop apps to measure cognitive health. Later in the year, the collaboration introduced their Cognition Kit to help the general public understand how physical and psychological factors affect the activities of thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.
Northern Irish health tech startup’s BrainWaveBank tests cognitive function while people play mobile games with a wearable EEG headset and a smartphone app. Brian Murphy, Brainwavebank’s Chief Science Officer, is a computational neuroscientist at Queen’s University in Belfast. Murphy’s work focuses on using machine learning to decode cognitive state recordings of brain activity. According to Murphy, machine learning techniques can detect cognitive problems at early stages. Once the company is able lower the cost of the headset, the BrainWaveBank could be used broadly to track cognitive wellness over time and correlate with diet, activity, and sleep. The goal is to use the information for insights to help optimize cognitive fitness. All a user will need to do is play mobile games for a few minutes each day.
BrainWaveBank’s hardware is currently too expensive for the general market, although the company is currently working with athletic teams, according to CEO Ronan Cunningham. Earlier in March BrainWaveBank raised 1 million pounds (approximately USD $1.2 million) in investment funding and grants to boost research and development, and to lower the hardware cost.