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Human Research Program

Boosting Brain Metabolism in Spaceflight with Transcranial Photobiomodulation

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Boosting Brain Metabolism in Spaceflight with Transcranial Photobiomodulation
The objective of this proposal is to develop a new technique for enhancing brain activity by applying safe levels of laser light to the forehead. It is known that near-infrared light is absorbed by an enzyme in the mitochondria and subsequently leads to greater energy availability in the stimulated cells. When stimulating the brain, this additional energy can be used by brain cells to carry out the necessary functions required to maintain high cognitive performance (for example, sustained attention, accurate memory recall). We will test the proposed technology by scanning participants’ brain activity while they receive laser stimulation to the forehead and at the same time perform a challenging perceptual task. We will also perform experiments where Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are used to stimulate participants’ brains while they are trained on a working memory task and simultaneously have their brain activity measured. Our expectation is that we will observe increased energy metabolism in the frontal part of the brain, as well as an improvement in the performance of both perceptual and memory tasks. We expect that this research will lead to a new, non-pharmacological technique for boosting the performance of the brain by delivering safe levels of near-infrared light to the brain.

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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Target Destinations

Light bulb

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