Princeton University Background
Eyeblink conditioning is a form of Pavlovian conditioning and is widely used in neuroscience to study mechanisms underlying learning and memory formation. Currently, eyeblink conditioning in humans requires expensive and dedicated hardware and software in a permanent environment. Moreover, data acquisition and analysis require quite extensive programming skills, and performing high-throughput parallel experiments requires a well-organized and clever database management system.
Eyeblink conditioning is affected in various neurological and psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and Fragile-X syndrome, which opens up the possibility to use eyeblink conditioning as a simple, low-cost, and non-invasive diagnostic tool or evaluation parameter for testing therapeutic measures.
Researchers in the Neuroscience Department at Princeton University have created a smartphone-based application that enables performing neurobehavioral tests, including but not limited to eyeblink conditioning.
Blink Lab, a mobile phone application to perform eyeblink conditioning remotely using the user’s own cell phone, will surmount these challenges. Blink Lab is a ‘total care’ package that alleviates potential users from the requirement of technical skills and extensive programming and enables reliable and reproducible eyeblink conditioning experiments for scientific, medical, and personal use. Another major advantage of the app is the fact that no equipment needs to be attached to the face, which is especially advantageous for infants and autistic patients.
Stage of Development
A prototype has been built and tested in-house on 13 participants. Data is available upon reasonable request. The inventors have contracted a professional application development company to further build the Blink Lab app.
Cost and time effective to set up
Delivery of reliable and reproducible results
Easy to operate – does not require extensive programming or data analysis skills to use
User friendly for infants and autistic patients – no face attachments needed
Therapy evaluation for neurodevelopmental disorders
Diagnostic tool for neuro-psychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia
Research tool in neuroscience and psychology to study mechanisms underlying learning and memory formation
Educational tool for any individual who is interested in his/her own brain functioning
Industry collaborators are sought to further develop and commercialize this technology.