WSU, AFRL land $9.1M contract for electrical device

Timothy Broderick, chief science officer at the Wright State Research Institute and associate dean for research affairs at the Boonshoft School of Medicine

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Timothy Broderick, chief science officer at the Wright State Research Institute and associate dean for research affairs at the Boonshoft School of Medicine

Wright State University, along with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and Ibis Biosciences, received an award of up to $9.1 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a device to improve learning.

The money is one of several awards issued by the agency’s biological technologies office under its targeted neuroplasticity training program, according to the unviersity.

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WSU and its partners will test a handheld, low-power electrical stimulator applied to the neck will improve learning. The technique, known as vagal nerve stimulation is FDA-approved for the treatment of diseases such as cluster headaches, epilepsy and depression.

Researchers in the project, called Learning through Electrical Augmentation of Plasticity, or LEAP, believe vagal nerve stimulation can be used in healthy subjects to stimulate a change in neurons that increases the ability to learn, according to WSU.

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The project aims to increase understanding of fundamental molecular mechanisms of nerve stimulation and learning by studying the way genes are expressed, a field known as epigenetics.

Timothy Broderick, chief science officer at the Wright State Research Institute and associate dean for research affairs at the Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine, has been named the top administrator on the project, according to the university.

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