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Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge funds program testing neurofeedback-based brain training to reduce cravings and battle opioid addiction

Soft­ware engi­neer Kel­ly Cash­ion (right) adjusts a wire­less EEG head­set on research engi­neer Nilesh Powar. Cred­it: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Day­ton Research Insti­tute

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Bat­tling Addic­tion With Brain­pow­er (Uni­ver­si­ty of Day­ton press release):

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Day­ton Research Insti­tute has won a $10,000 Ohio Opi­oid Tech­nol­o­gy Chal­lenge award for a pro­gram that will teach peo­ple with opi­oid addic­tions how to reduce their crav­ings by regain­ing con­trol of their brains.

Using neu­ro­feed­back, we’ll work with our vol­un­teers to help them learn to reg­u­late activ­i­ty in the part of their brain asso­ci­at­ed with crav­ings and rewire some of those path­ways, allow­ing them to reduce their crav­ings and expe­ri­ence a more ‘nor­mal’ state even with­out opi­oids.” (says soft­ware engi­neer Kel­ly Cash­ion)

Neu­ro­feed­back is a type of biofeed­back where sen­sors are used in con­junc­tion with a brain­wave mon­i­tor­ing method, such as elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG), to help the wear­er see his or her brain’s elec­tri­cal activ­i­ty in real time. The sen­sors — typ­i­cal­ly non­in­va­sive and attached to the scalp in the form of a wire­less head­set or a more tra­di­tion­al “show­er cap” style with wires — also let the wear­er see if and when cer­tain behav­iors alter their brain’s elec­tri­cal activ­i­ty.

In her pro­gram, Cash­ion will show vol­un­teers a graph­ics dis­play — which she likened to a sim­ple video game — on a com­put­er mon­i­tor. By giv­ing the vol­un­teers tasks that require a shift in focus or oth­er inter­ac­tion with the game, they will see which activ­i­ties most pos­i­tive­ly impact the sig­nals asso­ci­at­ed with crav­ings. After a series of train­ing ses­sions, vol­un­teers will have learned the tasks they will need to per­form to reduce crav­ings, even with­out use of the technology…Cashion said neu­ro­feed­back is not meant to be a sub­sti­tute for, but a sup­ple­ment to, cur­rent addic­tion ther­a­pies, which include med­ica­tion assist­ed treat­ment and behav­ioral coun­sel­ing.

At the out­set of her pro­gram, Cash­ion will work with health care pro­fes­sion­als and oth­er experts to help estab­lish a base­line of neu­ro­log­i­cal sig­nals and iden­ti­fy which sig­nals are asso­ci­at­ed with crav­ings. She’ll work with oth­er researchers in UDRI’s soft­ware sys­tems group to use math­e­mat­i­cal algo­rithms to map the 2-dimen­sion­al base­line sig­nal imagery to a 3-dimen­sion­al map of the brain…

Ulti­mate­ly our goal is to devel­op and demon­strate a neu­ro­feed­back sys­tem that uses off-the-shelf hard­ware along with soft­ware devel­oped here at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Day­ton Research Insti­tute, then work with local med­ical tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies to com­mer­cial­ize the prod­uct and make it avail­able to treat­ment cen­ters,” Cash­ion said.

The Technology Challenge:

Ohio Opi­oid Tech­nol­o­gy Chal­lenge, by Ohio Devel­op­ment Ser­vices Agency:

  • Descrip­tion: “Ohio is spend­ing $1 bil­lion annu­al­ly attack­ing the opi­oid prob­lem from every direc­tion includ­ing pre­ven­tion, edu­ca­tion, treat­ment and recov­ery, and law enforce­ment. Recent­ly, Ohio Gov­er­nor John R. Kasich called for Ohio Third Fron­tier fund­ing to accel­er­ate sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs that could help com­bat the U.S. opi­oid prob­lem. The Ohio Third Fron­tier is a state ini­tia­tive that iden­ti­fies and advances promis­ing technology…(it) will lever­age $8 mil­lion of a $20 mil­lion com­mit­ment to advance new ideas in the bat­tle against drug abuse and addic­tion. The Chal­lenge is a mul­ti-phase, mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar prize com­pe­ti­tion with esca­lat­ing prize amounts asso­ci­at­ed with pro­gres­sive lev­els of solu­tion devel­op­ment.”

The New Program in Context:

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