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Medical Involuntary motor reflex delay while sleepy

  1. Feb 12, 2013 #1


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    "Involuntary motor reflex" delay while sleepy

    Ok, I do confess I got pat of the title from Mel Brook's movie "Young Frankenstein". That said, here is my question.

    I'm trying to find an extremely non-invasive way to detect when a person is losing attentiveness, or getting sleepy. FYI, I'm an electrical engineer so I have little knowledge of the mind and body's behavior.

    I propose alertness or sleepiness can be detected using an extremely mild electrical shock. One would apply a short pulse of current between two points on the skin (in close proximity) and measuring the time the brain takes to respond to the shock (via muscle contraction). The longer the time between muscle contraction and the shock, the less alert the subject is, and conversely. Would this work?

    I've heard that the body will involuntarily respond to sudden stimuli (pain, etc...) before the brain has time to respond. Would the system I propose be largely independent of how the brain responds to the stimuli- given the body's involuntary reactions?

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  3. Feb 12, 2013 #2
    Re: "Involuntary motor reflex" delay while sleepy

    I don't know if the method you're proposing would be an accurate one-shot measure of someone's attentiveness or not, but it clearly fails the criteria of "extremely non-invasive", don't you think? To fit that criteria I would think you'd have to come up with a test the person was completely unaware of. The induced muscle spasm, itself, would surely alter their level of awareness and prevent ongoing monitoring of the natural state of their attention.
  4. Feb 12, 2013 #3


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    Re: "Involuntary motor reflex" delay while sleepy

    Hint: if you want to know if someone is getting sleepy or losing attention, their eyes will probably start to stay closed.

    Shooting the juice to someone is pretty 'invasive'.
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