Sam Wang and Henk-Jan Boele: Smartphone-based neurobehavioral testing in the blink of an eye

Nov. 2, 2021
Sam Wang

Sam Wang, Professor of Neuroscience

An app that turns an ordinary mobile phone into a device for conducting neurobehavioral evaluations could make it easier and more cost-effective to diagnose neurological disorders.

The BlinkLab smartphone application enables remote neurobehavioral testing in children and adults to help diagnose and monitor neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The app, which evaluates eye movements and blinks, can also be used in neuroscience and psychology research to study fundamental mechanisms underlying learning and memory formation.

Until now, these tests have required dedicated hardware in a permanent lab environment with substantial face-to-face interaction between researcher and participant. No face attachments are needed for this user-friendly device, which makes it especially suitable for infants and patients with sensory issues.

The BlinkLab smartphone app allows remote performance of neurobehavioral tests using the user’s own cell phone. People can do the tests by themselves at home following the user-friendly instructions provided by the app. Experiments can be programmed by the health-care professionals or researchers and selected from a list on the smartphone by the user. Data acquired with BlinkLab can be securely shared with health-care professionals or researchers.

Henk-Jan Boele
Henk-Jan Boele, Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton Neuroscience Institute; Assistant Professor, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam

During a typical evaluation, the user will watch an entertaining movie or play a video game while the smartphone delivers short auditory and visual stimuli. A test takes about 10-20 minutes. BlinkLab measures the user’s responses, and, using state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms, provides a behavioral readout that characterizes specific movements.

"This app is easy to operate, substantially reduces the costs of studies, and produces reliable and reproducible results.”
– Sam Wang

Sam Wang, Professor of Neuroscience
Henk-Jan Boele, Visiting Research
Scholar, Princeton Neuroscience
Institute; Assistant Professor, Erasmus
Medical Center Rotterdam

Diagram of how the BlinkLab app works
A smartphone app could provide remote neurobehavioral and psychological evaluations, saving time and money.

Sebastiaan Koekkoek, Department of
Neuroscience, Erasmus Medical Center
Rotterdam; Chris de Zeeuw, Chair,
Department of Neuroscience, Erasmus
Medical Center Rotterdam

Development status:
Patent protection is pending.
The inventors are forming a startup
company to develop and market
the technology.

Princeton University
Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund

Learn more:
Email: [email protected]

Licensing contact:
Laurie Viglione-Tzodikov
Associate Director
Office of Technology Licensing
Email: [email protected]