We only develop technology firmly grounded in science
Your brain naturally heightens your senses when you are highly alert and attentive
Your brain has the amazing ability of automatically enhancing your senses during time periods of high arousal and attention. This important neural mechanism improves perceptual acuity during potentially dangerous situations, when incorrect perception of details in tactile, auditory, and visual stimuli may lead to a costly mistake.
For example, imagine you're walking alone in the woods and unexpectedly hear footsteps approaching you. Your arousal skyrockets as you wonder if you're about to come face to face with a bear. During this aroused state, neural circuitry is activated that rapidly sharpens your senses, facilitating your ability to correctly identify the approaching animal and optimally react. You breathe a sigh of relief as your heightened senses let you realize it's just a rabbit.
Our research revealed neural circuitry that causes arousal-linked heightened senses
Preclinical research performed by our team at Columbia University, and published in Nature Neuroscience, elucidated the neuromodulatory circuitry responsible for arousal-linked heightened senses: the locus coeruleus - norepinephrine (LC-NE) system. Direct activation of the LC in awake rats rapidly optimized sensory processing, enhancing their perceptual acuity and reducing their rate of misperception-induced errors on sensory-testing tasks.
Then we perfected methods of activating this circuitry to sharpen senses on demand
The LC is deep in the brainstem and direct activation is highly invasive. However, stimulation of the vagus nerve in the neck is well-known to activate the LC, allowing us to overcome this translational barrier. In subsequent research, published in The Journal of Neural Engineering, our team rigorously tested different VNS parameters until we were able to design a specific pattern of VNS that induced the desired sensory-sharpening neuromodulation. Fortunately, VNS in humans can be safely and effectively delivered via fully-noninvasive transcutaneous stimulation.
Our technology allows you to heighten your senses for the moments that matter
We rarely find ourselves facing situations that induce high arousal in the modern world, yet could often benefit from heightened senses. For example, during social situations when ability to communicate clearly is key. Sharper Sense's technology gives users back control over their sensory state, unlocking sharpened senses at the push of a button.
- Charles Rodenkirch and Qi Wang. Rapid and transient enhancement of thalamic information transmission induced by vagus nerve stimulation. Journal of Neural Engineering, 2020.
- Charles Rodenkirch, Yang Liu, Brian J Schriver, and Qi Wang. Locus coeruleus activation enhances thalamic feature selectivity via norepinephrine regulation of intrathalamic circuit dynamics. Nature Neuroscience, 2019. (Featured in Nature Neuroscience News & Views)