Columbia University

Technology Ventures

A computerized memory test for specifically measuring dentate gyrus function

Technology #cu14290

Memory loss occurs in aging populations and occurs more acutely in people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. A region in the brain important for memory formation is the dentate gyrus (DG), but currently available memory tests are not optimal for specifically measuring DG function. This technology, ModBent, is an object recognition memory task that could specifically measure DG function. ModBent could potentially provide a useful tool for studying memory impairment, diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases, and assessing the efficacy of anti-neurodegenerative drugs.

ModBent measures patient pattern separation ability to assess early-stage dementia

The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to show damage in Alzheimer’s disease. The dentate gyrus (DG) is a part of the hippocampus that is responsible for distinguishing new memories from similar old memories. Similar memories are distinguished by the DG through a process called pattern separation. ModBent is designed to assess the function of the DG by measuring pattern separation ability. ModBent uses Lissajous figures, which are figures created by two intersecting sinusoidal curves. The Lissajous figures are parametrically similar and evoke the pattern separation process in participants. The primary variable for assessing pattern separation ability is the mean reaction time for rejecting objects that were not previously shown.

ModBent was validated with participants – performance on ModBent worsened with age by 220 milliseconds per decade. Older people given a dietary supplement high in flavanol, which may enhance DG function, performed better on ModBent than those given a dietary supplement low in flavanol.

Lead Inventors:

Adam M. Brickman, M.D.

Scott A. Small, M.D.


  • A non-invasive method for measuring dentate gyrus function in patients
  • Prognostic tool for early detection of memory impairment
  • Diagnostic tool for people with Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments
  • Research tool for studying the dentate gyrus
  • Pharmaceutical tool for studying the effects of relevant therapeutics on the dentate gyrus


  • Targets DG pattern separation ability
  • Evaluates early-stage loss of episodic memory formation

Patent Information:

Patent Pending(WO/2016/044255)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU14290

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