What can brainwaves tell us about the high?

This headset measures brain waves to determine if you’re high or not

A company at McMaster Research University in Hamilton, Ont., Uses brainwaves to test for cannabis impairment. In addition to the impairment test, the Ontario neurotechnology company Zentrela wishes to collaborate with cannabis producers to generate accurate product data by measuring cognitive impairment using neural signals and machine learning.

You’ve probably heard of breathalyzers and blood tests that detect THC, but what about a brainwave measuring headset?

Last month, the company received $ 850,000 in seed funding to build its data-as-a-service platform for producers and retailers, with a focus on mapping the effects of ‘cannabis 2.0’ products like extracts and edibles.

Israel Gasperin, a former graduate student of the McMaster University Entrepreneurship Program, founded the startup through the school’s business incubator, The Forge.

Gasperin was initially drawn to neurotechnology research in 2016, as the impending legalization of cannabis raised questions about how it would shape safety protocols in the transportation industry, which is also grappling with issues of passenger fatigue. conductors.

Modern drug tests measure the presence and concentration of cannabinoids such as THC – known as the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis: in a consumer’s saliva, urine or blood. These cannabis compounds can persist longer than euphoria, explained Gasperin, prompting the company to create a test “that actually measures the effects of the drug, rather than the concentration levels of a substance in it. the body “.

cannabis helmet 3
The only wave measurement for the effects of cannabis

The company raised $ 1.2 million from government agencies and nonprofits, including the Ontario Brain Institute, in 2019 to build a prototype electroencephalogram, or EEG, called a “Cognalyzer,” which collects brain waves from research participants.

to read : Cannabis and Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Friend or Foe?

Gasperin teamed up with Dan Bosnyak, neuroscientist and technical director of the university’s Large Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) lab, a performance hall where researchers can test and study a wide range of behavioral responses, social interactions and technologies.

Zentrela’s chief scientific officer, Mr Bosnyak, has been researching brain signal analysis and EEG technology for over 25 years, and he says the wearable technology industry is increasing the capacity for data collection.

Zentrela collects data “to the same standards I would apply in my lab at McMaster,” Bosnyak said, adding that in the case of commercial projects, “there are tradeoffs to be made. I have my standards that I try to enforce ”.

The company commissioned an independent assessment of its technology last year, he added, and hopes the results of the trial will soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

A recent study published in the Advances in Therapy journal assessed the levels of precision, sensitivity and specificity of the Cognalyzer to identify brain wave alterations after inhaling cannabis. The results showed that the headset is very accurate at detecting the psychoactive effects of THC.

to read : Psychedelics produce a “higher” state of consciousness

“Because we knew our technology was kind of revolutionary and people wouldn’t necessarily accept it, if we just said it works,” he said, adding that the test results of company external research are “basically the same as what we get in internal research.” “

Its latest funding of $ 850,000 comes from Calgary-based investment firm Jornic Ventures and will create a database documenting the effects of cannabis products. Mr Gasperin said the aim was to license retailers for data on product effects.

“This is the value that we add to producers so that they can (…) differentiate their products and explain to consumers, in a scientific way, what effects their products will have on them, because this is our final objective: promote safe and responsible use of cannabis, ”said Mr. Gasperin.

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