First home-use device helps to manage autism

Device helps to reduce over-active brain waves

After over six years of research, development and extensive user-testing, a cutting-edge neuroscience product designed to help manage the challenging symptoms of autism has just been launched by Maltese R&D company AAT Research Ltd.

The device, Mente, which is widely heralded as a first in its field worldwide, is based on neurofeedback and is specifically developed for home use by autistic children without the need for specialist assistance. It is one of several neuroscience products aimed at the health and medical sector being developed by Malta-based neuroscience research and development lab, AAT Research.

AAT Founder and Managing Director, neuroscientist Dr Adrian Attard Trevisan hopes the device will revolutionise the way parents and health professionals support autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children.

In autistic children, the Delta brainwaves, which are naturally elevated at night, remain over-active during the daytime. This causes many of the symptoms and distractions typically associated with autistic people as they struggle to cut through their ‘mental noise’.

Mente patented technology listens to the autistic child’s brainwaves to create personalised sounds designed to stimulate the reduction in the user’s Delta brainwaves.

The idea is not too dissimilar to the way noise-cancelling headphones work. These produce counter-noise to reduce unwanted background sounds.

Mente does something similar with brainwaves. Luckily, unlike noise-cancelling headphones, the effect of the use of MenteTM lasts even when the MenteTM headband is removed.

For over a decade, neurofeedback technology has proved an effective treatment but has until now only been available in some specialised institutions. Mente solves the challenge of making neurofeedback technology available for home use at an affordable price and without the need of specialist supervision.

The Mente system consists of two components - a headband and software downloaded to the user’s personal computer or smartphone. The headband has five (4 channel) very sensitive EEG pads that pick up minute brainwaves (Alpha, Beta, Delta and Theta waves), emitted by the brain in real time.

The Mente software interprets the waves, processes them in real time and converts them into harmless, personalised binaural beats which sound like music and which the user listens to either via the computer’s own speakers or the included headphones.

The software, which can be downloaded to a range of devices (PC, smartphone, tablet) communicates with the headband via a Wi-Fi connection and allows the user to go about their daily activities without interruption. A child can continue with most routine activities so long as sound and noise interference are eliminated or kept to a minimum.

All it takes is 40 minute every morning,” says Dr Trevisan. “After that, the effects last the rest of the day until the child goes back to sleep. With sleep, the waves naturally elevate and the process must be repeated the next morning.”

After each session, the software issues a daily report that shows an EEG representation of the key brainwaves before and after each session. This report is designed for easy interpretation and provides a record of the progress the child is making from daily use of the therapy. Uploaded securely to the cloud, the report is available anytime and anywhere.

It can take up to four week of daily use for results to start appearing and while Mente is not a cure for autism, it can help manage and reduce the challenges associated with the condition.