Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2022.


Bioengineering; Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Julia Scott

Second Advisor

Sally Wood

Third Advisor

Yuling Yan


Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are widespread, affecting millions of people worldwide. These diseases occur when neurons in the brain or peripheral nervous system progressively lose function and deteriorate. Current pharmacological treatments manage some of the neurological symptoms, but there is no cure yet. Interventions that mitigate or restore loss of function can fill the void until that goal is met. Light stimulation, or transcranial photobiomodulation (tPBM) therapy, can help treat people with neurodegenerative diseases, as it has been shown to improve sleep, attention, memory, and cognitive function.

The objective of this project is to develop a hybrid electroencephalogram (EEG) and nearinfrared light stimulation device with a real-time, dynamic closed-loop control system. The device is designed as a research tool to study the effects of light stimulation therapy on the brain because the associated mechanism by which the effects occur is not well understood. Simultaneous stimulation of the brain and measurement of brain activity is required to answer these questions.

We worked closely with an interdisciplinary team to design a helmet-like device and software program with integrated electrode arrays, LED arrays, cooling system, and dynamic light stimulation and EEG signal control interface for effective and comfortable delivery of light therapy. The device and control system enable the functionality to design experiments that test the assumptions of light therapy mechanisms. These types of findings will improve light therapy protocol design by providing direct evidence of the acute and long term effects of the intervention. The clinical implications for patients with neurodegenerative diseases are that light therapy may be more effectively designed and thereby improve quality of life for those suffering.