The US Army is currently funding a futuristic project that aims to improve the performance of soldiers by providing them with optimal rest. This is a kind of night cap, which should also be useful for better understanding and treatment of many neurological diseases.
Interest in the glymphatic system
When it comes to the possibility of creating a nightcap for cleaning the brain, it’s quite difficult to imagine what it really is. Is it a trinket, like many others, or a project that will soon be shelved? In fact, this is a project that has received $2.8 million in funding from the US military. As explained in a press release dated September 29, 2021, engineers from Rice University in Texas are collaborating with Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital.
According to the researchers, the project is still in its infancy, so the prototype has not yet appeared. Nevertheless, the initiators of the project have already determined their goal – to focus on the glymphatic system. Known only since 2012, it embodies what is known as the “brain sewer”.
During sleep, the glymphatic system cleanses the brain of metabolic waste through cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, the future nightcap will include sensors to measure the flow of this liquid.
Military and medical applications
Researchers want to use an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a rheoencephalogram (REG). The first measures electrical activity, and the second measures blood flow. The prototype will also be equipped with an orbital sonograph (OSG) to transmit ultrasound pulses through the eyes. There is also talk of installing a transcranial Doppler, which is based on another measurement method using ultrasound.
It should be noted that the collected data will be processed using automatic learning algorithms. In addition, the nightcap could subsequently affect the glymphatic system using transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) and low-intensity focused ultrasound pulses (LIFUP).
For the US Army, the goal is to increase the efficiency of soldiers by giving them the opportunity to have a better rest. However, the project managers believe that the cap can also be used in medicine to study all brain diseases in real time. This is still a long way off, but the results of the research on the prototype should allow us to draw some first conclusions.