A neurotech firm founder tested his brain scan helmet. Using ketamine?

With nearly 60 grams of ketamine in your blood
Mert Erdemir
Brain scan helmet revealed the effects of ketamine in human brain.koto_Feja/iStock

Apart from its recreational use, Ketamine has actually been used as an anesthetic for both animals and humans since the 1960s. Recently, it has been under the spotlight of scientists for its potential to cure depression.

However, the problem is that the general comprehension of what ketamine does to the brain and how it comes good to depression is still limited. But now, Bryan Johnson, the founder of a neurotech company called Kernel, has used his device while taking ketamine.

In October 2021, the company already reported that it had received the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct an experiment on ketamine in partnership with Cybin, a startup working on psychedelics to make therapeutics. Almost seven months later, Bloomberg has reported that Johnson administered 57.75 milligrams of ketamine into his bloodstream through intramuscular injection and put Kernel Flow on his head to provide scans of what was happening in his brain. The first stage was that the hallucinogen sent Johnson into an altered 'trippy' state.

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He conducted the tests several times and wore the helmet before, during, and a few days after his 'trip.' The results demonstrated significant differences in the brain's wiring. The images produced by the Kernel helmet showed that the connections between the brain regions were more robust before the ketamine injection. However, after about 20 minutes on ketamine, many of those connections that resemble pathways started to disband, leading to a meditative state.

Mind-reading Kernel helmets

A neurotech firm founder tested his brain scan helmet. Using ketamine?
Bryan Johnson wearing Kernel Flow 50. Source: Kernel

Kernel is a neurotech company that designs and manufactures brain-scanning helmets. The helmets use sensors and other kinds of electronics to measure and analyze the functions and activity of the human brain. The aim is to get groundbreaking information about mental health, aging, cognitive function, and other brain-related issues.

So far, the company has developed two models - Kernel Flux and Kernel Flow - that use different technologies to gain insight into the brain. Kernel Flux utilizes magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology and tiny magnetometers to measure electromagnetic activity of the brain. Kernel Flow, the one used in the ketamine experiment, works via optical brain recording technologies and firing laser pulses into the brain. The technology is significant in terms of neuroscience since it reduces the appliance scope of such technologies from huge machines to a wearable helmet equal to a bike helmet in size.

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