More than half a decade has flown by since we launched the first Vielight Neuro, it is an appropriate time to review and affirm the reasons for its design. As the pioneers of transcranial-intranasal brain photobiomodulation technology, there are several key reasons why our latest model, the Vielight Neuro 3 is positioned to continue delivering the most efficacy, coupled with a user-friendly design at an affordable price for the foreseeable future.


The Intranasal Advantage

“Why the nose?” – We have heard that line all too many times before.

We chose the nose because of its location and structure. The nose is a gateway for near infrared (NIR) 810nm light energy to reach the ventral area (underside) of the brain which would otherwise be inaccessible. The regions of the brain that is on the underside of the brain has many important roles in emotional responses, decision making, and self-control. Additionally, the nasal (olfactory) area is directly connected to the memory processing (hippocampus, entorhinal cortex), emotions management area (amygdala) and allows access to other areas of the brain (thalamus).


Choice: Vielight Neuro Headset or Repurposed Helmets?

It might be tempting to grab a bike helmet, a hat of some sort, or a bucket, line it with generic LEDs, and call it a “brain photobiomodulation device”.
But have you considered if they are effective?

After a decade of experience as one of the first brain photobiomodulation companies, we learnt that effective brain photobiomodulation is not that simple. Especially if we aspire to offer a device that delivers the maximum light into the brain in a safe manner.

As a research-centric company, we discovered there are several key factors come into play when maximizing brain photobiomodulation efficacy.

     1. Transmission of NIR light energy

NIR light energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation that consists of particles like photons, which have wave-like properties.

In nature, light energy can affect the cellular physiology of an organism, but how do we deliver it correctly?

Several properties of light energy influence the transmission of NIR energy to the brain.

Given these two factors, helmets/hats etc. are not ideal for brain photobiomodulation. In addition to the loss of energy when light travels from the helmet/bucket/hat etc, hair becomes an inhibitive barrier by absorbing the residual light, because the hovering LEDs do not make contact with the skin.

Secondly, the location of the LEDs is crucial for effectiveness. The LEDs must be positioned in the highest impact areas of the brain. The quality of selected locations combined with power and frequency matter more than the sheer number of randomly positioned LEDs that are too far away from the scalp.

Even worse, they create and trap unusable/unregulated heat and compromise on comfort and portability as they have to be connected to wall sockets.

Lastly, the “one-size-fits-all” designs lack the adjustability of accommodating different head sizes. Yikes!

Enter the Neuro

Figure 1. Penetration of NIR energy into a human cadaver using the Vielight Neuro.

The Vielight Neuro is designed for maximum transmission of light energy.

The Neuro’s headset has an innate design advantage as the Neuro’s LED modules were designed to maximize contact with the scalp. The microchip-regulated LED modules control the thermal output as well,

Additionally, the Neuro’s headset is designed to be adjustable to fit different head sizes and shapes. Comfort and efficacy for your most vital organ – your brain.

     2. LED technology

A famous chef once said, “It’s simple, great ingredients make great food.” Another important ingredient (or factor) in brain photobiomodulation is the type of LED technology used. The Vielight Neuro uses microchip-regulated LED diodes, which generate desired power with negligible heat. This enables the LEDs to be in direct contact with the scalp’s surface to maximize energy transmission and penetration.

On the other hand, using numerous subpar LEDs may not be a “recipe for disaster” but failure, as they often compensate for a lack of heat-regulating technology by using less power density. At Vielight, our proprietary LED technology can extract as much power as needed within safe and efficacious limits.

     3. Are more LEDs better?

Not necessarily – firstly, the LEDs need to generate enough power with the proper wavelength to penetrate the skull. There’s little utility in generating a lot of total power if none of it reaches the brain.

As consumers, you should always be aware of the difference between power density(mW/cm2) and total power output(mW). Power density is important, not total power output. Power density and wavelength(810 nm) are the two most important factors that determine whether photons will penetrate the skull and reach the brain. Total power output can be a misleading specification because it can be easily achieved by using many underpowered and sub-par LEDs.

The adage, “quality over quantity” holds true here!


Targeting the Default Mode Network

There are approximately 86 billion neurons in the human brain. That’s a lot of neurons. For reference, there are approximately 200-400 billon stars in our galaxy.  Neurons are highly interconnected – our brain stimulation optimization theory is to pick the most important regions that show the highest interconnectivity. Hence, our research team chose the default mode network (DMN) as the primary target for the Vielight Neuro. Here’s why.

The Vielight Neuro targets the Default Mode Network.

  • Why the Default Mode Network?

The general health of the brain is often associated with the health of the default mode network (DMN), often considered the template network of the brain. It is a large-scale brain network primarily composed of the lateral parietal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortexprecuneus and the entorhinal cortex. The DMN is prominent when the brain is in its quiet state of repose.[1] Several brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease has been associated with dysfunctional DMN.[2]

In a nutshell, the Default Mode Network (DMN) has been linked to the general health of the brain and is involved in various domains of cognitive and social processing. Do you know of a better target for brain photobiomodulation? If so, let us know.


The Theory behind Pulse Rates

We have found that the pulse rate matters in brain PBM. The brain responds to pulse rate stimulation in specific ways. When we stimulate a healthy brain in gamma (40 Hz), we can elevate the amplitude of gamma and other fast waves in alpha and beta in the brain while reducing those of the slow delta and theta [3]. Independent researchers have found success in the use of the Vielight Neuro Gamma for dementia [4] , Parkinson’s Disease [5] ; and the Vielight Alpha (10 Hz) in traumatic brain injury [6] . However, please note that our devices are still general wellness device and not medical devices. We don’t claim efficacy for any indication and can only point towards research already published with our devices. (https://www.vielight.com/research)


Validation via Research

At Vielight, research is in our DNA. We understand the need to validate the engineering theory behind our devices with scientific data. A simple idea like placing LEDs on your head can turn surprisingly complex when taking different parameters into account, like the pulse rate, wavelength and power density to maximize efficacy.

With that in mind, we’ve invested heavily in research and clinical trials over the years. In fact, Vielight devices have the most published research in the field of brain photobiomodulation to date.

For a full list of published research that used our devices: Link

We’re grateful to all the research institutions we’ve collaborated with over the years and look forward to a bright future of discoveries together.


References

  1. Sormaz, Mladen; Murphy, Charlotte; Wang, Hao-Ting; Hymers, Mark; Karapanagiotidis, Theodoros; Poerio, Giulia; Margulies, Daniel S.; Jefferies, Elizabeth; Smallwood, Jonathan (2018). “Default mode network can support the level of detail in experience during active task states”
  2. Buckner, R. L.; Andrews-Hanna, J. R.; Schacter, D. L. (2008). “The Brain’s Default Network: Anatomy, Function, and Relevance to Disease”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
  3. Zomorrodi, R., Loheswaran, G., Pushparaj, A., & Lim, L. (2019). Pulsed Near Infrared Transcranial and Intranasal Photobiomodulation Significantly Modulates Neural Oscillations: a pilot exploratory study. Scientific Reports, 9.
  4. Chao LL. Effects of Home Photobiomodulation Treatments on Cognitive and Behavioral Function, Cerebral Perfusion, and Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Patients with Dementia: A Pilot Trial. Photobiomodul Photomed Laser Surg. 2019 Mar;37(3):133-141. doi: 10.1089/photob.2018.4555.
  5. Liebert A, Bicknell B, Laakso EL, Heller G, Jalilitabaei P, Tilley S, Mitrofanis J, Kiat H. Improvements in clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease using photobiomodulation: a prospective proof-of-concept study. BMC Neurol. 2021 Jul 2;21(1):256. Doi: 10.1186/s12883-021-02248-y.
  6. Chao LL, Barlow C, Karimpoor M, Lim L. Changes in Brain Function and Structure After Self-Administered Home Photobiomodulation Treatment in a Concussion Case. Front Neurol. 2020;11:952. Published 2020 Sep 8. doi:10.3389/fneur.2020.00952