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Investigating the effects of mild induced head cooling on cognitive processes using a measure of sustained attention.
Eric Lacey, Redmond O’Connell, Paul Dockree & Shane O’Mara
Enterprise Ireland Innovation Initiative: Head Cooling Project
Eurolec Instrumentation in partnership with Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience
Mild Induced hypothermia has come to be recognised as a successful method of providing neuro-protective treatment for patients suffering ischemic stroke, cardiac arrest and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Anti-inflammatory responses and the lowering of cerebral metabolic rates, leading to a reduction in neuronal apoptosis, are considered to be the main mechanisms by which this process benefits patients. Assessment of a new hydro based cooling device, which could potentially be used by emergency service units, provided the impetus for the current research. Neurologically normal participants underwent two treatments: a cooling procedure where the temperature of water circulating in a cooling helmet was maintained at 4°C and a non-cooling/sham procedure where the temperature was set at 18°C. During treatment participants were required to perform a computer-based task that measured sustained attention/vigilance via participant response times during target detection. Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were also acquired before and after each treatment condition. Participants’ core temperature (recorded via tympanic membrane) was monitored throughout the process. The findings revealed a statistically reliable 0.62 °C decrease in temperature as a results of cooling after controlling for participants’ body mass index (BMI). However, there were no reliable cognitive or EEG spectral changes induced by the decrease in temperature.