March 18, 2024
Diagnosing ADHD in Five Minutes

Most of us recognize the tell-tale signs of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) — the fidgety child who blurts out an answer before the question is completed; the adult who starts new tasks before finishing the old. Still, there is no clear-cut diagnosis, and students have faked symptoms to receive medication that helps them focus and pull all-nighters.  

Now technology based on 12 years of research conducted at the Technion appears to accurately detect, measure, and quantify impaired attention by observing eye-blinking patterns to particular sounds. Israeli company MindTension, which narrowly escaped tragedy on October 7, developed a medical device that tests the brainstem’s Moro reflex, or response to startle sounds. Children who retain this involuntary startle response past infancy are hypersensitive to outside stimuli and often demonstrate symptoms commonly linked with ADHD.  

Currently, an ADHD diagnosis is based on questionnaires and other exams that can be vulnerable to bias, backed up only 10% of the time by computerized tests that have proved to be inadequate. MindTension’s device employs a proprietary algorithm that quantifies the patient’s attention levels and deficits objectively and precisely, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment.   

“We provide a precise diagnosis in 5 minutes with an EMG-based (electromyography) response to brief auditory stimuli,” said MindTension chief scientist Avi Avital, a Haifa University faculty member who previously headed the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab at the Technion. Avital co-founded the company with CEO and Technion alum Zev Brand, M.E. ’08.  

Beyond diagnosing ADHD, MindTension scientists say their device could save lives by detecting attention deficits in pilots, surgeons, and truck drivers due to lack of sleep or long shifts. 

Approximately 9.5% of children and 2.6% of adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD. MindTension’s device is undergoing the process of FDA approval in the U.S. and plans to launch a large clinical trial in Israel and at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to test and prove the accuracy of its algorithms.  

Despite its location in Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border, MindTension offices remained unscathed on October 7. The kibbutz security officer was alerted early that morning, took up armed positions at the gate, and ensured its members sheltered in safe rooms.