Announcement of software release for new analysis package.
We will be rolling out a few major changes to those of you using our ProTools software at some point this week. The software you know and love is largely staying the same, but we have tweaked the way data sessions are viewed by introducing a more efficient and intuitive data timeline. We are dedicated to providing updates to improve our system, and we think you'll enjoy the new features and find that this new version of ProTools is much faster.
Each data session is now a point on the data timeline, shown across the top of your screen. You can quickly see a subject's progression across their recent testing sessions. Click on any testing session to see a full detailed report.
We're also introducing radar plots to give you a new way of viewing your patients' corticalmetrics. Poor results now will be appear on the radar plot in the yellow or red regions, while strong performance will extend further into the green region.
The new tabular view will give you a better idea of how a subject has progressed across multiple testing sessions. Every test taken is displayed as a numerical value and its corresponding color-code. This allows you to more easily see if the subject is improving (moving from red to green) or declining (green to red).
How sensitive are corticalmetrics?
All activity in the brain (mediated through neurons and neurotransmitters) can be classified as either excitatory or inhibitory. The balance between neuron excitation and inhibition is essential to maintaining brain circuitry and neurological health. Without adequate inhibition, excitation runs rampant and the brain cannot shut itself off, often resulting in seizures. Excess inhibition (or insufficient excitation) can also be detrimental. Ideally, balance is maintained by neurotransmission that is mediated by NMDA receptors which mediate the excitatory glutamate transmission) and by the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
An inhibition/excitation imbalance can affect how well the brain is able to adapt. One of the best ways to look at the effects of below-average GABA mediated inhibition is via test results from alcoholics (see examples below). Alcohol is a GABA agonist; it takes the place of GABA in the brain. Chronic alcohol consumption will eventually result in decreased production of GABA. When an alcoholic abstains from drinking, detoxification tremors emerge because there is not enough GABA in the individual’s system to correctly balance excitation and inhibition. Benzodiazepines, another GABA agonist, can be an effective treatment for recovering alcoholics. However, treatment with benzos is no longer recommended due to their highly addictive nature.
This graph compares the corticalmetrics of a group of individuals before and after undergoing treatment for alcoholism. Note that after a 12 week period of sobriety, the metrics were close to those obtained from healthy controls.
The next graph shows corticalmetrics for college-aged individuals. Subjects who drank more than 60 drinks per month showed significant differences from those who drank less or did not drink at all.
We are frequently asked whether drinking, or acute alcohol consumption, can impact corticalmetrics. Any substance which affects communication in the brain will have an impact on corticalmetrics; acute alcohol consumption is not exempt to this rule.
Note the score differences in the next graph. The left side reflects scores obtained from individuals with low blood alcohol content (BAC), while scores on the right reflect those obtained from individuals with a high (>0.05) BAC.
We can also change the balance between excitation and inhibition by decreasing excitation. Administering a small amount of dextromethorphan (DXM; an active ingredient in many cough syrups) will significantly change an individual’s corticalmetrics.
The chart below compares scores from individuals receiving a placebo (No Adaptation) with individuals receiving a double dose of cough syrup.
There are different types of inhibition which are mediated through GABAa and GABAb. Although GABA levels in the brain can be measured with spectroscopy, there are no methods for measuring this directly. However, corticalmetrics can theoretically differentiate between GABAa and GABAb levels, and there is growing evidence for this rationale in a number of studies. We’ll describe that work in a future article.