How University of Northern Iowa is Evaluating Cognitive Performance Response to FeelZing Stimulation
Dr. Terrence Moriarty is the assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Dr. Moriarty and Thync, the company behind FeelZing, are working together to evaluate the effectiveness of FeelZing’s brain stimulation technology on the cognitive performance of sleep deprived college students.
What is being tested?
In Dr. Moriarty’s words ”We're looking at the effect of the FeelZing stimulation versus non stimulation versus caffeine and its impact on HRV and cognitive performance and oxygenation in the prefrontal cortex.”
In other words, UNI is testing the effect of the FeelZing patch on various indicators of cognitive performance, and comparing it against a control group, and a group that is taking caffeine.
How is it being tested?
Dr. Moriarty and UNI are setting up a series of groups, a test group (FeelZing stimulation), a caffeine group (taking caffeine), and a control group (no stimulation), and asking them to complete cognitively different tasks. Then, the participants’ brain activity in the prefrontal cortex will be measured while completing these tasks.
“We'll set up a cognitive demanding task and then we'll see how the individual's prefrontal cortex, usually that's related to kind of decision making, we'll see how that kind of lights up for want of a better term during that cognitive task.” - Dr. Moriarty
What is the hypothesis?
The technology that FeelZing delivers has come from 10+ years of neurostimulation research by Thync. Based on that research, and based on recent customer feedback, we believe that the FeelZing patch has an effect on increasing ‘focus’ in users. Now, we want to turn what we anecdotally believe to be true into scientific fact by testing how these effects actually look in the brain/body and how they could help sleep deprived students.
Our hypothesis, therefore, is that by activating the autonomic nervous system via FeelZing stimulation, we can increase an individual’s cognitive performance under conditions with little sleep. We also believe that FeelZing stimulation could have an effect on raising heart rate variability, which would have positive implications for athletes. This hypothesis is based on previous research as well as the theory of the effects of autonomic nervous system stimulation.
According to Dr. Moriarty, the hypothesized results are based on “that balance between the autonomic and the sympathetic / parasympathetic — how that balances the individual.”
Dr. Moriarty specifically is hoping to see statistically significant results that show increased cognitive performance in the FeelZing group compared to the control.
In his words: “It's all very well to have an increase in energy and mood and so on and so forth. But does that relate to something that's quantitatively being assessed? Here we're measuring cognitive tasks, processing speed and dimensional change and stuff. So, we hope that at least the caffeine and the stimulation have positive outcomes on all those variables.”
What results are we looking for to prove the hypothesis?
We’re looking to see the effects of FeelZing stimulation on cognitive performance as well as heart rate variability. So we’ll be looking to see if the FeelZing stimulation group has a higher score on cognitive tasks vs. the control group. And similarly if they have higher measured HRV than the control group.
We will also be looking at negative side effects, though we don’t believe there will be any. Dr. Moriarty is hoping to show that “we can stimulate the central nervous system to maybe produce a response that will be positive for us without any negative consequences.”
“We can stimulate the central nervous system to maybe produce a response that will be positive for us without any negative consequences.”
If we see a positive result, we’ll know that the FeelZing patch is effectively stimulating the autonomic nervous system, and in the process, increasing cognitive performance.
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