Hanli Liu, a professor of bioengineering at the university of Texas at Arlington, is working to improve the memory and cognitive function of astronauts during space missions by shining light on their brains, foreign media reported.
Together with Jacek Dmochowski, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the city university of New York, she received an $800,000 nasa-funded grant to study light-based technologies that increase the available energy of astronauts' brain cells and improve their performance.
Her work is investigating how lasers can be used to provide near-infrared light to the brain to detect symptoms of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and has recently expanded to study the neurophysiology of noninvasive near-infrared laser transmissions to improve human cognition.The research sheds light on how light stimulates mitochondria to produce more oxygen in the brain, increasing brain metabolism and reducing memory loss.
Funded by the new project, she will investigate whether leds can replace lasers as a way to transmit near-infrared light.Specifically, she needs to find the wavelength range and duration needed to produce the desired effect.
Typically, lasers are heavy and bulky, taking up too much space in the narrow Spaces of a spacecraft or space station.Leds are lighter and smaller and can be more easily fitted to headbands or similar devices.In addition, leds are safer for the human eye than laser light.
Red and near-infrared leds have been widely used to relieve pain and treat acne, but few researchers have rigorously studied the feasibility and limitations of boosting and stimulating brain metabolism.
She said, "the researchers there is evidence that in a particular area of the human brain irradiation light of 8 to 10 minutes, memory can be improved", "we are proving that, if we can increase the power of the LED inside the security level, we can make the LED light like a laser reach the cortex, but safer, smaller and easier to use."