Available Technology

A Neuronal Avalanche Size (NAS) Assay to Screen for Cognitive Enhancers and Anti-Epileptics

screen to assess drugs with the ability to enhance cognitive function, and ultimately, relieve cognitive defects associated with psychiatric illnesses and neurological disorders.
Patent Abstract: 
Currently available methods of detecting and measuring EEG activity only crudely classify normal and abnormal activity or distinguish epileptic activity early in the onset of its deviation from normal activity. Available for licensing are methods for recognizing a new pattern of EEG activity called neuronal avalanche size (NAS) that has been correlated with cognitive function and epilepsy. The NAS uses extracellular field potentials to measure the distribution of synchronized neurons in the cortex (neuronal avalanches) and thus the state of the cortical network. When the avalanche size reaches a power law with a slope of -3/2, the system is in the critical state and the cortical network is functioning optimally to spread information throughout the network. If the system slope deviates from -3/2, the system is outside the critical state and is either epileptic or sub-critical. In animal studies measurement of NAS quantified a drug’s potential to increase cognitive functioning and induce or reduce epilepsy. The NAS assay may thus enable high-throughputin vitroscreens to select anti-epileptics and cognitive enhancing drugs for continued drug development. Because avalanches represent scale-invariant dynamics they can also be recorded using surface (EEG) electrodes. This technology may thus be useful in assessing cognitive function, epileptic pathology and in selecting and monitoring drug therapy for epileptic patients.

Dietmar Plenz (NIMH)

Patent Number: 
8,548,786issued 2013-10-01 PCT Application No. PCT/US2006/031884
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
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