Corante

About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
Follow me on Twitter at @neurorev
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March 31, 2004

Cogniceutical Improves Verbal Memory in Older Men

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Nature and The New Scientist report on a new cogniceutical based on a liquorice extract that improves memory in older men. The substance works by blocking the activity of a brain enzyme that boosts levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is thought to be responsible for eroding memory with age.

The drug, called carbenoxolone, was once used to treat stomach ulcers. But when given to men aged between 55 and 75 it sharpened their verbal memories within weeks. "You get subtle but definite improvements," says Jonathan Seckl who led the study at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Verbal memory, he explains, is needed for remembering recently received information, and is "crucial to normal functioning" - for example, recalling the time of an appointment.

Seckl believes such compounds may be available for the elderly within five years to help improve memory and possibly even treat dementia. "A lot of fine ideas get stuck between animal models and the first clinical trial, but we have at least got preliminary [human] data suggesting it would be a good idea," he told New Scientist."

I wonder how carbenoxolone would impact the memory of a younger person?

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cogniceuticals

March 30, 2004

Continuous Meaning, Authentic Happiness and Eudaemonia

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Martin Seligman on this month's Edge thoughtfully discusses happiness and the role that his positive psychology movement and neuroceuticals will play in enabling people to live happier lives.

"I spent the first 30 years of my career working on misery. The first thing I worked on was learned helplessness. I found helpless dogs, helpless rats, and helpless people, and I began to ask...how do you break it up? What's the neuroscience of it? What drugs work?...About 25 years ago I began to ask the question, who never gets helpless? That is, who resists collapsing? And the reverse question is, who becomes helpless at the drop of a hat?... I found that optimistic people got depressed at half the rate of pessimistic people..."

"What's missing is the question of whether psychologists can make people lastingly happier. I'm interested in psychological ones, but an obvious question applies to pharmacology — not to take people from -8 to -5, but to take people from +2 to +6. " (read enabling enhancement to learn more about this critical difference)

He then goes onto explain different types of happiness: First, "there is the pleasant life — having as many of the pleasures as you can and the skills to amplify them — and the good life — knowing what your signature strengths are and recrafting everything you do to use them a much as possible. But there's a third form of life, and if you're a bridge player like me, or a stamp collector, you can have eudaemonia; that is, you can be in flow."

"My great ambition for psychology...is that in the next 10 to 15 years we will be able to...claim unblushingly that psychology and psychiatry will have decreased the tonnage of suffering in the world, but also increase the tonnage of happiness in the world.

"What are the "therapeutic" and drug prospects for positive psychology? The answer is probably yes for the pleasant life...There are also recreational drugs — antidepressants don't bring pleasure, but recreational drugs do. I've never taken Ecstasy or cocaine, but I gather that they work on pleasure as well. At any rate, a pharmacology of pleasure is not science fiction, and I expect that as positive psychology matures our drug company friends will get interested in it." (To learn more about the political obstacles to developing safe and effective recreational tools read these two posts: "a call to fund recreational drug development" and "stuck with 4,000 year old tools).

The third form of happiness is meaning...knowing what your highest strengths are and deploying those in the service of something you believe is larger than you are. There's no shortcut to that. That's what life is about. There will likely be a pharmacology of pleasure, and there may be a pharmacology of positive emotion generally, but it's unlikely there'll be an interesting pharmacology of flow. And it's impossible that there'll be a pharmacology of meaning." (Read more of Martin's thoughts in his complete interview)

**As much as I tout the coming advances in neuroceuticals and their potential to improve emotional control, it is critical to realize that neuroceuticals are tools, tools for mental health. Creating a life of meaning and happiness requires using these tools to enable yourself to increase your capacity to continuously strive towards achieving those goals that bring each of you meaning and authentic happiness.**

Martin has raised $30 million in the last few years for the scientific infrastructure of positive psychology. If you have the time, visit his Web site, authentichappiness.org, where you take a variety of happiness and depression tests that will help you understand what type of interventions you might take in your own life to achieve a more meaningful, authentic form of happiness. Something, I know we are all interested in having a bit more of. Lastly, don't forget to take a deep breath right now and remind yourself to enjoy this day, wherever you are.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues

March 29, 2004

Listen to My Live Radio Interview on Neurotechnology

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Posted by Zack Lynch

You've read my thoughts about neurotechnology and our emerging neurosociety, and now you can listen to a live radio interview I did this past Saturday on Digital Village, a weekly public radio program on L.A.'s KPFK (90.7) hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons. (audio link can be found here - click on part 2)

The 30 minute interview covers many topics, including:

-How I became interested in neurotechnology
-What is neurotechnology and how it will impact our daily lives
-Freedom of thought and the future of brain scanning technologies
-How neurotechnology will impact the finance industry
-Globalization of the neurotechnology industry
-And a whole lot more....

Please let me know your feedback on my first radio interview. Also, please note that you can now reach Brain Waves via www.neurosociety.com


Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interviews/Press

March 27, 2004

The Neurotechnology Wave

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Posted by Zack Lynch

The nascent neurotechnology wave (2010-2060) is being accelerated by the development of biochips and brain imaging technologies that make neurological analysis inexpensive and pervasive. Biochips that can perform the basic bio-analysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation, and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and production in a very similar fashion as the microprocessor did for data. Nano-imaging techniques will also play a vital role in making the analysis of neuro-molecular level events possible. When data from advanced biochips and brain imaging are combined they will accelerate the development of neurotechnology, the set of tools that can influence the human central nervous system, especially the brain. Neurotechnology will be used for therapeutic ends and to enhance human emotional, cognitive and sensory system performance.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

Overview of Our Emerging Neurosociety

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Lynch's 15 Laws of the Neurosociety

1. Lynch's Law of Social Forecasting

By viewing recent human history as a series of techno-economic waves with accompanying socio-political responses it is possible to understand the type and timing of how new technologies will shape our future human society.

2. Lynch's Law of Future Societal Change

Neurotechnology will drive the next fifty year wave of societal change, the neurotechnology wave 2010-2060.

3. Lynch's Law of Neurotechnology

Neurotechnology, the set of tools that influence the brain, are being driven by nanobiochips and brain imaging technologies that will make neurological analysis inexpensive and pervasive.

4. Lynch's Law of Nanobiochips

Nanobiochips that perform the basic bio-analysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation, and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and production in a very similar fashion as the microprocessor did for data during the information technology wave. Unlike Venter's Second Law, the cost of biochips will decline even more rapidly because they will be the driving low cost product that will transform every industry. Nanobiochips will emerge around 2012.

5. Lynch's Law of Human Brain Imaging

Nano-imaging techniques will make possible real-time analysis of neuro-molecular level events in the human brain. The brain imaging bottleneck will be broken around 2015.

6. Lynch's Law of Neuroceuticals

When data from biochips and brain imaging are combined they will enable the development of neuroceuticals. Neuroceuticals are tools that will reduce the severity of mental disorders and improve mental health.

Neuroceuticals can be broadly categorized into three classes:Cogniceuticals, Emoticeuticals, and Sensoceuticals.

7. Lynch's Law of Neuroceutical Development

Today's pharmaceutical development process where a new drug can take 15 years and can cost over $800m. By 2020 new neuroceuticals will take less than 2 years to develop and cost under $10m. Details of pharma's industrial implosion in chapter 4 of my forthcoming book, Neurosociety.

8. Lynch's Behavioral Law of Neurotechnology (Perception Shift)

By influencing multiple personality characteristics, neuroceuticals will shape how people perceive daily issues. New behaviors will emerge that culminate into a substantially different behavior repertoire than people currently encounter. A person who is slightly less depressed, slightly less anxious, slightly more aware, and with slightly better recall behave differently than people do today.

9. Lynch's Law of Human Performance Enablement

By improving economic productivity countries will legalize performance enhancing tools by 2020. This shift will come with the understanding neuroceuticals are the latest set of tools, in humanity's long history of tool building, that enable individuals to live, live longer, and live happier.

10. Lynch's Law of Neurocompetitive Advantage

Neurotechnology represents the next form of competitive advantage beyond information technology. For example, innovation is a complex mental function wherein cognitive assessment and emotional compassion combine to accelerate the creation of new knowledge. Individuals that utilize neuroceuticals (say to forecast emotions) will become more productive and creative will attain neurocompetitive advantage.

11. Lynch's Law of Regional Economic Development

Neurotechnology clusters will emerge in India and China first because the political and cultural views on human testing won't impede technological experimentation and development.

12. Lynch's Law of the Neurosociety

Neurotechnology will give rise to a new type of human society, a post-industrial, post-informational, neurosociety.

13. Lynch's Law for the Survival of Humanity

Empathy

14. Lynch's Personal Law of Life

People do the best they can with the resources they have.

15. Lynch's Personal Law for Life

Give more, get more.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

March 25, 2004

Work in the Era of the Global Extensible Enterprise

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Yesterday I spent the day with 300 others at IBM's 2004 Almaden Institute conference. Jim Spohrer invited me to listen about the following topics by some leading thinkers, including:

1. The Future of Work -- Thomas Malone (MIT Sloan School)
2. Changing Ways of Working? -- Graham Button (Xerox Research Centre)
3. Strategic Issues Linking US and India-based IT Workforces -- Dossani (Stanford)
4. Empowering the World's Poor Through IT -- Mohamed Muhsin (World Bank)
5. Cross-cultural Issues in Global Software Outsourcing -- Geoff Walsham
6. The Geopolitics of Shared Cognition in Globally Distributed Teams -- Marietta Baba (Michigan State University)

Unfortunately, even at IBM's premier research center, wi-fi access was spotty, so I lost some of my notes on a few of the talks because of getting kicked off the wireless network. A classic problem that all conferences, like the Always-On Conference had last year.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

The Paradox of Globally Distributed Teams

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Defining a Global Distributed Team (GDT) as an interdependent workgroup comprised of cultural diverse members based in two or more nations who share a collective responsibility for making or implementing decision related to a firm’s global strategy was Marietta Baba In her analysis these team also relied on technology as a medium for communication and coordination.

For GDT's to work successfully members share and integrate explicit and tacit knowledge and create new knowledge that adds value. In this case Knowledge is defined as aspect of cognition whose accuracy or correctness has been validated externally (a problem since ways of knowing are culturally constructed). In addition, there needs to be cognitive convergence: A process by which individual cognitive structures become more similar or overlapping overtime as people work together. (These teams have to use knowledge to reach their goals.)

To uncover the mechanisms that mediate cognition and performance on a GDT she and other researchers used ethnographic analyses that included: recording spontaneous conversations, coding of their behaviors, team documents, and reports from the team to access convergence or divergence. All of this was in the context of trying to understand whether or not they agreed on the task at hand and could successfully execute that goal.

Here were the obvious findings: GDT's that don't share physically conducive spaces, and unshared contexts across teams create cultural differences in cognition.

Here was the non-intuitive finding: Homogeneous clusters handing work off to other homogeneous clusters did not create cognitive convergence. This happened for two reasons:
Fault lines: Co-occurence of divergence differences in each place created stronger identities that overpowered previous commonalities
Power clusters: Heterogeneous concentration of people in a group with co-located key corporate assets created an exclusionary agenda of believed power.

I hope I captured this fascinating research accurately. Either way, if you are interested in learning more, consider Dr. Baba an expert to turn to.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

Knowledge as Development Tool

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Suggesting that IBM’s real business opportunity was in empowering the 3B people around the world who don't have internet connectivity was Mohammad Muhsin. He provided some great example of how people were creatively tackling the problem of how individuals can log onto the internet without connectivity?

In one area of Pakistan, people write out their questions on paper which are sent to a nearby community that has access who then on a given day each week the answers are broadcasts via radio.

Another intelligent example was occurring in India where people need to have access to the soil erosion information about their land. In this case, the information about their soil is extremely private information and could easily be used against a farmer in negotiations. To overcome this problem in this village of 6.5 million people (yes, he said village) a public/private partnership was developed to provide information on soil erosion to individuals. But because almost all of these villagers are illiterate, they couldn't even type in their personal information to access the information. The answer: biometric thumbprints scanners are now being used to access private information for illiterates.

Summing it up, he declared, "knowledge empowers the human spirit."

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

The Future of Work: Happiness

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Posted by Zack Lynch

“How many of are you happy?” asked MIT's Tom Malone as he opened his talk about his recent, thought-provoking book, The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life. While almost everyone raised their hand, he suggested that this is not the norm, and added that "values and happiness" will become be major determinants of where, how, why work is done in the coming decades.

Other great points included:

We are in the early stages of an increase in human freedom in business, that may be as important to businesses that democracy was for political organizations." He based his assertion on the fact that Low communication costs make it possible to drive change based on human values. Two examples he highlighted this view were the emergence of wikipedia, an open content encyclopedia where anyone can change anything any time and the explosion of Ebay which has over 41 million active buyers/sellers across the globe.

Further exploring his thesis he described how societies have developed over history from bands that were decentralized and unconnected, to kingdoms that were centralized but unconnected in between, to democracies which are relatively decentralized and connected. Building on this he explained how businesses in the 20th Century evolved from small, local businesses (1900) to large centralized corporations (1950) to empowered, outsourced, networked organizations most recently.

Projecting forward he suggested that business organizations where independent decisions are valued will create higher motivation, more creativity, and greater responsiveness. Sounds a bit like the Parecon thesis for business.

From the inside cover of his book: "Imagine organizations in which bosses give employees enormous freedom to decide what to do. Imagine electing your own bosses and voting directly on important company decsions. Imagine organizations in which most workers aren't employees at all, but electronically connected freelancers living wherever they want to. And imagine that all this freedom in business lets people get more of whatever they want in life -- money, interesting work, the chance to help others, or more time with their families."

I had a chance to speak with Tom about our emerging neurosociety and its relevance to his thinking around the future of work, and his response was exactly what I have posited, "This sounds very real, a lot more real than the current hype surrounding nanotechnologies impact on the future of business, politics and culture." It was as if he had read my piece Is It a Nano or a Neuro Wave?

Update: See Dave Pollards post Centralize/Decentralize for some intelligent commentary on Tom's book.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

March 24, 2004

Outsourcing - Japan, India, China, US

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Two talks covered different aspects of the international outsourcing issue.

Discussing the history of US outsourcing to India was Rafique Dosanni who called in from India where he is doing his latest research. In short, he detailed how India would like to climb up the value chain in software development all the way up to ownership of whole product, but cross-cultural issues continue to stem this possibility.

One clear example he used of outsourcing that was sure to occur on a massive scale in the next few years was call centers. 6 million Americans are currently employed at call centers with an average hourly wage of $8. In India, the average hourly wage is $2. When asked if this would hurt the US economy he commented that it definitely will if these workers don't have the opportunity to be retrained for a new line of work. With the average call center worker in the U.S. having 25 years of experience compared to 3 years in India, he suggested that it might be hard for these workers to easily motivate to get retrained.

Exploring the outsourcing of Japan software to India was Geoff Walsham who made the point that even though Chinese software engineers are 1/3 the cost of Japanese programmers and India's are one half the price of a Japanese software engineer, Japan still prefers to outsource to India. The reason, India has a better grasp of the media technologies and better toolsets. However, looking forward he suggested this would change, especially since the primary second language that Chinese programmers are now learning is Japanese. This gives new meaning to what goes around comes around.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

March 22, 2004

Journal of Neural Engineering Launches

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Providing more evidence that neurotechnology industry is emerging, the Journal of Neural Engineering launched this month:

The goal of this journal is to establish a new forum for the interdisciplinary field of neural engineering where neuroscientists, neurobiologists and engineers can publish their work in one periodical that bridges the gap between neuroscience and engineering. The new journal will publish full length articles in the field of neural engineering at the molecular, cellular and systems levels.

This month's inaugural journal contains over 30 papers covering such topics as:

1. Why we need a new journal in neural engineering
2. fMRI signal changes during visual stimulation
3. Control of phase synchronization of neuronal activity in rat hippocampus
4. A versatile all-channel stimulator for electrode arrays, with real-time control

This first article is an editorial that provides more detail why the Journal of Neural Engineering is unique and important:

"Understanding how the brain works is considered the ultimate frontier and challenge in science. The complexity of the brain is so great that understanding even the most basic functions will require that we fully exploit all the tools currently at our disposal in science and engineering and simultaneously develop new methods of analysis. While neuroscientists and engineers from varied fields such as brain anatomy, neural development and electrophysiology have made great strides in the analysis of this complex organ, there remains a great deal yet to be uncovered...The ability to successfully interface the brain with external electronics would have enormous implications for our society and facilitate a revolutionary change in the quality of life of persons with sensory and/or motor deficits.

Microelectrode technology represents the initial step towards this goal and has already improved the quality of life of many patients, as is evident from the success of auditory prostheses. The cost to society of neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy is staggering. Stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in North America, runs up costs of $40 billion to society per year for its treatment. Costs associated with brain disorders are estimated at $285 billion. Breakthroughs in this field will have a significant impact on the market for enabling technologies. The market for neurological medical devices totaled $2 billion in 1999 and is projected to grow at a rate of 20 to 30% in the next ten years, far outpacing the market for cardiac devices.

Clearly this journal will play an important role in supporting the development of the basic science underlying the neuroelectronic sector of the neurotechnology industry. While this is definitely important in the near term, it remains equally important that the neurobiologic sector of the neurotechnology industry sector to also define itself as this is where an increasingly larger number of breakthroughs for neurological diseases and disorders will emerge in the long term. The best example of this is how audioceuticals will surpass the effectives of cochlear implants for the hearing impaired within the next decade.

Note: Thanks to James Canton at the Institute for Global Futures for bringing this to my attention.


Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

March 19, 2004

Neuroethics Non-Profit Calling Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet

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Posted by Zack Lynch

After seeing Jim Carrey on David Letterman and Ellen this week, I am even more convinced that he and his co-stars would be very interested in supporting the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics.

Today's movie release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey who want to have their bad memories erased. While memory erasure inc. doesn't exist yet, the issues presented in this movie do.

I am sure the actors and producers would be very interested in CCLE's work. Should you have access to them through your network please let them know about CCLE's real life fight to protect their cognitive liberty. Now in their fourth year, they have many accomplishments, including arguing for freedom of thought in the U.S. Supreme Court. Please help them protect your cognitive liberty.

Freedom of thought is at a critical crossroads. Policy makers and judges are making important decisions now that set alarming precedent for the future of freedom of thought. The legalization of brain fingerprinting is just one example. Without freedom of thought, there can be no free society.

Next celebs that will understand neuroethics: Robin Williams and Mira Sorvino who star in the Final Cut.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neuroethics

World's Largest Brain Imaging Center Announced

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Posted by Zack Lynch

You know neurotechnology is emerging when people start putting hundreds of millions of dollars into building new centers of brain imaging excellence.

Last week, London Imperial College and GlaxoSmithKline announced plans to build a £76 million medical imaging research center in London that will staff 400 researchers. The center will focus on improving treatments for diseases like stroke and cancer, while at the same time driving new developments in imaging technology.

Even for a research-intensive university like Imperial College, the new center is on a huge scale. “This is by a long way the largest such investment internationally that I know of in imaging science,” said Leszek Borysiewicz, principal of the faculty of medicine.

The site at the college's Hammersmith Hospital campus was chosen over several top US and European institutions. It will house 400 researchers and support staff from industry and academia, half of which will be new positions. The company is contributing £28 million to the construction of the center and £16 million to furbish it with imaging equipment. The rest will be provided by Imperial College and the hosting hospital.

Basic and translational research will take place in the center when it stands finished in 2006. This will initially focus on neurological diseases and cancer; however, the publicly funded research is likely to also branch out into a number of other disorders. Borysiewicz said that there are likely to be developments in the diagnostics and therapeutics of diseases, but that the college at the same time will be able to push the technology with its strong base in engineering,
computing, and chemistry.

Fuelling basic science is a welcome side effect for the drug company. “If we can increase the science output of a major university, it's good for us because you can't discover drugs without understanding disease,” said John Brown, who oversees imaging research at GSK.

Mark my words, this is only the beginning. Wait until Wall Street realizes the power of neurofinance.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodiagnostics

Neuromarketing Goes to the Cars

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Posted by Zack Lynch

This week's Newsweek International edition contains another story about how brain imaging technologies are being used to understand consumer choice:

"Radiologists at the Neurosense clinic in south London aren't looking for lesions or lumps. Instead, they've set up a periscope that allows her to view a series of videotaped advertisements." Contrary to the beliefs of many brand managers, neuromarketing will improve product success rates over time which primarily depend upon focus groups to help determine which products will be put on the market.

"Almost every focus group throws up someone more vocal and bossy, who either inspires others to follow or react against [them] or both," says Tim Ambler, senior fellow at London Business School. Perhaps that's why only one in 100 products survives in the marketplace after the typical product launch."

"According to researchers, the act of deciding whether to make a purchase lasts 2.5 seconds. When the possibility of buying something first occurs to a person, the visual cortex, in the back of the head, springs into action. A few fractions of a second later the mind begins to turn the product over, as though it were looking at it from all sides, which triggers memory circuits in the left inferotemporal cortex, just above and forward of the left ear. Finally, when a product registers as a "strongly preferred choice"—the goal of every advertiser—the action switches to the right parietal cortex, above and slightly behind the right ear.

"We can scan people looking at lots of different images, find out afterward which ones they remembered and then go back to the scan data and find out what was specific about the brain activity that occurred in response to the remembered images," says Michael Brammer, chairman of Neurosense."

Among the companies currently testing the technique are Ford of Europe who are using such "neuromarketing" techniques to better understand how consumers make emotional connections with their brands and DaimlerChrysler has funded several research projects at the University of Ulm in Germany, using brain-imaging technology to decode which purchasing choices go into buying a car.

[Note: Thanks to Jerome for the Headsup]

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neuromarketing

March 18, 2004

It's Brain Awareness Week

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Remember, without your brain, you are nothing.

For more information visit Brain Week.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues

March 17, 2004

Berkeley Brain Imaging Breakthrough

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Alexander Pines and his colleagues at UC Berkeley have discovered a remarkable new way to improve the versatility and sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging and the technology upon which it is based, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

"NMR encoding is exceptional at recovering chemical, biological, and physical information from samples, including living organisms, without disrupting them," says Pines, noting that MRI, a closely related technology, is equally adept at nondestructively picturing the insides of things. "The problem with this versatile technique is low sensitivity."

In their soon to be released paper in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging they explain how encoding and detecting NMR/MRI signals separately makes many otherwise difficult or impossible applications possible.

"For example, xenon can be dissolved in chemical solutions or in the metabolic pathways of biological systems, then concentrated for more sensitive detection. Other signal carriers can also be used for remote detection, including hyperpolarized helium gas for medical imaging or liquid oil or water for geological analysis. Since only the carrier reaches the detector, alternate detection methods, incompatible with the sample because they may be intrusive or require transparency, can also be used -- for example, optical methods that can detect the miniscule NMR signals from living cells."

Like Randall Parker, I too believe that the most interesting developments to watch are analysis instruments. While still in basic research mode, this latest laboratory breakthrough will slowly make its way into corporate and academic labs, greatly refining our basic understanding of human biology in years to come.

[Thanks to Kevin Keck and the Bay Area Futurist Salon for bring this to my attention]

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodiagnostics

Non-Neuro Thoughts II

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Lots of interesting conversations occur daily in the blogosphere. Here are a few recent blogs that I would like to comment on:

1. Humanitarian Tom Munnecke blogs about a reality TV show for compassion. "For example, Mother Teresa was hospitalized in San Diego a few years back, and during her stay, she managed to convince her Jewish Cardiologist to volunteer at a clinic in Tijuana."

How about a reality TV show for Non-Profits called "Greatest Good"? It would be a mix of American Idol and the Apprentice where teams from across the country compete for $5m in funding for the idea that America thinks would make the greatest social impact. What do Americans really care about anyway? On a related note, reality TV winners have started new foundation, Reality Cares. I guess that's a step in the right direction.

2. Socialtext's Ross Mayfield eloquently details the value and difference that the Press, Blogs and Wikis play in social discourse. Let's use them all.

3. Virginia Postrel is as concerned as I am about Spain's political reaction to the Madrid bombings and the general European sentiment regarding terrorism, violence and the U.S. While many Spaniards changed their vote because they felt the ruling party was lying about who the real terrorists were (ETA not extremists), the result was the same, a win for terrorism. As one recent pundit has put it, Europe has Lost.. Speak up Kerry.

4. Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowan asks, "Are financial bubbles good for economic development?" I would say "good" isn't the right question. As Carlota Perez explains in her seminal work, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, financial bubbles have occurred about every 50 years over the past 250. They emerge as the goals of financial capital and production capital diverge around the second or third decade of each technological revolution. So whether or not they are good, I would suggest that we might see another around 2033.


Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: X-tra

March 16, 2004

Sex and Your Brain

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Why doesn't Viagra work for women? Today's NYTimes reports on new research that points to ways that men and women's brains differ when they become sexually aroused that may help explain this.

Emory University's Stephan Hamann and his research team had 14 male and 14 female participants view several types of sexual and social interaction images for 30 minutes. Their brain activity was then compared using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technology that measures neural firing through changes in blood flow. A pattern immediately emerged. The photographs set off a frenzy of brain activity, particularly in the amygdalae of men. Yet the two groups reported equal arousal most of the time.

Other studies have gone further. In a study published last year, researchers in the Netherlands recorded brain activity in men as their female partners brought them to orgasm. The amygdala, the scientists found, showed decreased activity during climax. Other studies have suggested that a larger amygdala may lead to a more robust sex drive.

Others are not so impressed with the research. "Differences between genders are boring," says Dr. Leonore Tiefer. "The big differences are within the sexes, between individuals. It is not the case that every person pays attention to the same thing. It's like everything else in life — eating, dancing, traveling. The whole experience is shaped by your history and by what you're paying attention to."

Note: I apologize if you do not receive this update due to your spam blocking program.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues

March 15, 2004

Audioceuticals Will Prevent Hearing Loss

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Sound Pharmaceuticals researchers are quickly moving forward on developing neuroceuticals to stem hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third leading chronic disorder and exceeds the number of persons with either diabetes or visual loss combined.

"According to the NIH, CDC and NIOSH, hearing loss is the most common neurosensory disorder and the most common occupational disease. Hearing loss is found in all age groups and can seriously compromise the quality of life or job performance of those affected.

Hair cell regeneration to improve or restore hearing in persons with permanent hearing loss is a significant product pipeline for Sound Pharmaceuticals, Inc. SPI previously announced that its patent, Method for the treatment of diseases or disorders of the inner ear, was issued in Europe, effective Oct. 1, 2003."

(disclaimer: Eric Lynch, VP of Research, is my brother).

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neuropharma

March 12, 2004

The Neurobiology of Creativity

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Yesterday's Redwood Neuroscience Institute's Stanford Theoretical Neuroscience Lecture featured William Calvin from the University of Washington.

The general theme of his talk was creativity. "How you do something you’ve never done exactly that way before, yet get it right the first time?"

His answer: You can have competitions between categories, between movement programs, between relations, between analogies. That’s what a Darwin Machine in neocortex could buy you: a general process for quality creativity at various levels.

Some of the most interesting work on the neurobiology of creativity is being conducted by Dr. Rosa-Aurora Chavez from the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City. To determine if there was a genetic component to creativity, she took blood samples from 100 recognized artists and scientists. Her findings showed that highly creative individuals had increased expression of specific serotonin transporter and dopamine receptor genes.

She then performed functional neuroimaging experiments on a dozen of these creative minds, concluding that creative individuals had significantly higher activation in the right and left cerebellum, frontal and temporal lobes, while they performed creative tasks.

Creativity research has important implications for business innovation and investment. While standard IQ tests and college entrance exams focus on convergent thinking, i.e. finding the right answer, creative individuals excel at divergent thinking, i.e. discovering multiple potential solutions. The typical behaviors of creative individuals, such as novelty seeking and harm avoidance, as well as, high emotional, sensual and physical over-excitability, often result in the abandonment of projects.

In today’s rushed corporate world focused on quenching the financial markets thirst for efficiency, there is little room for individuals who do not predictably meet deadlines. Further research might validate that sustained financial support of think tanks could produce more innovations. Imagine if the Medici family had not backed Michelangelo, a creative genius who is known to have left over half of his sculptures unfinished.

How many cures for diseases and market opportunities have been missed as a result of short-circuiting the creative process?

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March 11, 2004

This is Your Brain on Movies

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Neuroesthetics is emerging fast and the entertainment industry should wake up and learn. Here is Luiz Pessoa's perpective on this cutting-edge research in this week's Science:

"When two people watch the same movie, are their brains activated in the same way?" More specifically, "To what extent do all brains work alike during natural conditions?

The results reveal a surprising tendency of individual brains to "tick collectively" during natural vision. The intersubject synchronization consisted of a widespread cortical activation pattern correlated with emotionally arousing scenes and regionally selective components."

Would the brain activity of individuals be more similiar, or less, if the individuals were on Ritalin or something else? This sounds like an experiment for Rodolfo Llinas.

Update: Psychscape on Reel Psychology

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March 10, 2004

In Neurons We Trust?

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Posted by Zack Lynch

The Economist reported last week about a group of researchers who are exploring the neurobiology of religious experiences.

Until recently, religion and spirituality were deemed as 'cultural, a product of social conditioning, and not biological'. Religious beliefs and spirituality was the 'playing field' for theologists and philosophers, not biologists and scientists. Many scientists were skeptical and unwilling to consider the spiritual as science.

Building on the pioneering work of Michael Persinger, researchers are suggesting that "religion is a property of the brain, only the brain and has little to do with what's out there." Those who believe in neurotheology are trying to disprove the existence of God say they are holding up a mirror to society about the destructive power of religion. They say that religious wars, fanaticism and intolerance spring from dogmatic beliefs that particular gods and faiths are unique, rather than facets of universal brain chemistry.

"It's irrational and dangerous when you see how religiosity affects us," said Matthew Alper, author of "The God Part of the Brain," a book about the neuroscience of belief. "During times of prosperity, we are contented. During times of depression, we go to war. When there isn't enough food to go around, we break into our spiritual tribes and use our gods as justification to kill one another."

While Persinger and Alper count themselves as atheists, many scientists studying the neurology of belief consider themselves deeply spiritual. James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to reevaluate what his professional background had taught him.

"It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating," said Austin, author of the book "Zen and the Brain" and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. "Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption -- an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist."

The ethical implications of neurotheological research could be quite profound. Indeed, some researchers are now using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to induce "god-like" experiences. Whether or not "God" is an emergent property of interacting neurons or not, one thing is for sure, I doubt we'll ever see the replacement of "In God We Trust" with "In Neurons We Trust" on US currency. Thank God's Neurons.

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March 8, 2004

Santa Fe Institute's Research in Behavioral Sciences

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Posted by Zack Lynch

George Cowan, one of SFI's founding fathers, recently endowed a new program that leverages SFI's extensive research in complex adaptive systems to gain insight into human social and behavioral issues. Five informal workgroups came out of the founding research prioritities meeting that occurred last August in the following areas:

1. Emotion, Cognition and Behavior
2. The Robustness Variation of Sex Differences
3. Insiders, Outsiders and Group Boundaries
4. Inequality as an Emergent Property of Social Interactions
5. Institiutional Innovation and Persistence

Samuel Bowles, coordinator of the event, urged the scientisits onward to create very tangible results. "It isn't just having a good idea that counts...It's coming up with good science that catches and makes a difference."

Celebrating it's 20th anniversary of cutting edge research exploring the boundaries of complexity and chaos, it seems that SFI researchers will surely contribute to the growing discussion around our emerging neurosociety in the coming years.

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March 6, 2004

Neuromarketing Not So Hot, Yet...

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Either corporate America doesn't believe the hype surrounding neuromarketing or their marketing departments don't understand what "neuromarketing" means. My bet it is more the latter than the former. Regardless of the reason, the lack of interest in neuromarketing caused the first neuromarketing conference to be cancelled this week:

Thank you for your interest in Neuromarketing 2004. Unfortunately, the interest expressed about this meeting exceeded the actual number of participants who signed up. This number was too small for the meeting to be economically feasible. We expect this nascent field to grow quickly, and hope to have sufficient participation to support our meeting next year.

Conference organizers had even put together an all-star group of neuroeconomic researchers that included:

-P. Read Montague, PhD - Director, Human Neuroimaging Lab, Baylor College
-Steve Quartz, PhD - Director, Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Caltech
-Kevin McCabe, PhD - Prof. Economics and Law at George Mason University
-Paul Zak, PhD - Director, Center for Neuroeconomics,Claremont Graduate U.
-Brian Knutson, PhD - Assistant Prof., Psychology and Neuroscience at Stanford
-Colin Camerer, PhD - Professor of Business Economics at Caltech
-Samuel McClure, PhD - Fellow at Princeton University
-Ronald Fisher, MD, PhD - Director of Nuclear Medicine, Baylor Hospital
-Clint Kilts PhD - Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the Emory University School of Medicine

If you really think about it, how many marketing or advertising executives do you know that have a background in neuroscience. As I've said before, as brain imaging advances, neuromarketing will become a significant growth sector in years to come as the trillion-per-year advertising and marketing industries leverage brain scanning technology to better understand how and why people react to different market campaigns. If you know any highly energetic, experience business executives with neuroscience degrees, have them give me a call. I've got a few companies that are interested in talking with them.

Update: What Brand Are You? My first brand was "Pro-Performa" which means "hitting the wall" my second was "Tenax" meaning "calm chaos collectively collaborated".

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March 5, 2004

Think nano has ethical problems? Just wrap your brain around neuro

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Don't miss my article today in small times, a nanotechnology magazine.

What new tools to improve human performance will emerge from the convergence of nanotech, biotech, infotech and cognitive science? Speculating about potential NBIC applications is easy. Developing novel tools that solve real world problems remains hard. My goal is to explore the political and economic issues that might arise as these converging technologies make possible neurotechnology – tools that influence the brain.... (rest of article)

Thanks Howard.

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March 4, 2004

Art and the Brain in Action - Neural Audio and More

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Take some time to visit these incredible artists I've come across while exploring how art drives cultural change for my forthcoming book -- Neurosociety: How Brain Science Will Shape the Future of Business, Politics and Culture. (see Cubism, Camouflage and Cultural Change). Clearly, humanity's neurofuture is looking to be quite extraordinary.

Brain Wave Chick, Paras Kaul, has created a new art form called neural audio. By strapping an electrode-studded band to her head, Brainwave Chick, as she is known, guides her music by moving between different states of mind. For the audience, the music is a blend of nontraditional, at times discordant, sound. Listen to neural audio.

Art Blogger, has added a new feature to his site called "redesign" where the banner on the home page randomly regenerates a spectrum of colorful squares each time the page is reloaded. (Check it out). This is something every dance club should have. Also, this is the best blog title I've ever seen "the cult of speed and surface." I also highly recommended Arts Feed for a comprehensive global social network of the world's art as well as Art Forum.

Pink and Sting have nailed it in two of their recent songs: Pink: "God is a DJ, life is the dance floor, love is rhythm, and you are the music." (electro headz remix) Sting:: "Send your love, send your love into the future, send your previous love to some distant time. There is no religion but the joys of rhythm, there is nothing sacred by the joys of trance. Send your love. (Dave Aude vocal remix)

While neuroesthetics is still an emerging discipline, it is being accelerated by places like the Neuroscience Institute's research facility that focuses on music and the brain is accelerating our understanding of the neural basis of artistic creativity and achievement. Just as information technology has made all these art forms (brain wave synthesizers, digital banners and electronica) listed possible, neurotechnology will surely play an important role in the ever evolving world of art, architecture and entertainment.

What does a Van Gogh sound like anyway?

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March 3, 2004

Listen to Biotech Today with Roco, Canton & Montemagno Noon PST

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you missed the NBIC conference, don't miss Biotech Today's interviews with these speakers at 12pm PST today:

- Dr. Mike Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Science Foundation
- Dr. Carlo Montemagno, Chairman of UCLA’s Department of Bioengineering
- Dr. James Canton, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures
- Dr. David Carroll, Director, The Center for Nanotechnology at Wake Forest University
- Mr. Richard Shanley, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
- Ms. Sonia Miller, Founder and President, Converging Technologies Bar Association

Also, check out this small times article "Melding of Nano, Bio, Info, and Cogno Opens New Legal Horizons" reviewing several of the NBIC talks, including mine.

Happy 3/3 J.

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March 2, 2004

NBIC 2004 - Services Science and Coevolution

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Posted by Zack Lynch

IBM's Jim Spohrer insightfully called for the development of a new discipline, Services Science. While Jim has held many positions at IBM, most recently the CTO of the venture capital relations group, he is now completely focused on understanding the future of human services. His key points:

- Services Science: He noted the rise and fall of employment in agricultural, industrial and information services over the past 200 years. Today information services represents over 30% of employment in the US, but there is still nothing akin to "information science" which was created in the 1960s that focuses on services.

- The rise of managerial organization has been one of the most powerful social inventions in human history, making it possible for the division of labor to occur in way that could not have been envisioned hundreds of years previously.

- The Business of People: Healthy, wealthy, wise and the pursuit of happiness (Security, Freedom and Entertainment).
--Healthy: More healthy people to boost effective labor
--Wealthy: More capital assets per worker to boost effective labor
--Wise: Better investment decisions to boost efficiency of labor

- Humans as informavore's: Human activity has gone from the search for food to the search for new information. From maximizing energy over time to maximizing useful information over time.

- Spohrer's other great points:

- 100 billion people have lived on Earth throughout human history.
- Historically, 220 pharmaceutical targets have generated $3 Trillion of value.
- DNA to phenotype = 300 terabytes per person x 6 billion people = 1800 billion terabytes of data (sounds like storage will be continue to be growing sector)
- Outsourcing: Digging trenches could be done by robots that are controlled outside the country, yes outsourced plumbing may be only a few decades away.
- Technology of history
- One of the best background reading lists around. Although it is missing one very important book by Carlota Perez which would help refine IBM's strategy to the next level of specificity and predictability.
- Just as he did last year, Jim is still pushing for a new acronym for NBIC
- And a special thanks to Jim for inviting me down to IBM to share my thoughts on the neuroeconomy. I look forward to it.

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March 1, 2004

NBIC 2004 - Faster than Thought

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Sharing how nanotechnology is extending the edge of neuroscience, NYU's Rodolfo Llinas provided some provocative new research that will surely push neurotechnology and our understanding of the mind to a new level.

- Using a noninvasive magnetoencephalography, it is now possible to see (via a computer animated representation) how magnetic fields flux throughout the brain as we think. Because thoughts and emotions occur in the tens of millisecond range, it is possible to see how and where neurons work at specific time frames while people perform different tasks.

- Even more impressive was a new neurovascular approach his team developed that might soon be used to monitor and manipulate the brain using nanowires (5 nm in diameter). In the most impressive visual of the conference, he showed an electron microscope video of a nanowire being moved within the capillary's that stretch throughout the brain. Projecting this technology out into the future, he suggested that computer-based optimization of multiple recordings and stimulation of sites could be structured to allow specific man-machine platforms that could deliver specific neurochemicals to specific sites in the brain.


- While exploring the benefits that this technology represents, he also shared his concern about the future misuse of this technology, especially as the ultimate tool for drug addiction.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 - Engaging Developing Countries

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Exploring the impact that converging technologies will have in developing countries was Jim Hurd, NanoScience Exchange, and Sarah McCue, UNDP. Highlights as follows:

- Adoption in developing countries isn't always slow - Mobile phones in China went from 1 million users in 1997 to over 200 million by the end of 2001.

- The Grameen Bank + mobile phones = success - The ability of the Grameen Bank to lease a wireless mobile phone to poor women in a small town in places like rural India has been a huge success for everyone.

- By viewing knowledge as a global commodity, CITRIS, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, is looking at new ways to create an always on network in all developing nations.

- No small task to develop microfluidic chips that can enable low-cost diagnostics under $1 - New micro-ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) tests being developed at Harvard could transform disease diagnostics throughout the developing world. The new chips only require 1 drop of blood, the chips are resusable, and the detection system is now down to $45.

Special thanks went out to following for contributing to this important on-going work in developing countries: Jerome Glenn, Claude Leglise, Tom Kalil, Chris Hurd, Raj Bawa and Anil Srivastava.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 - Religious Comparative Advantage

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Conference co-Chair, William Simms Bainbridge, gave a wonderful talk on religious comparative advantage and tracking emotions throughout one's life. Co-author of many books, including: The Future of Religion, Religion, Deviance and Social Control and A Theory of Religion, he made the following points:

- Ancient attempts to understand and control the mind were based on religious superstition rather than science. For example, ancient Egyptian technology wasted much energy trying to achieve immortality with mummification (there are more than 1 million mummies believed to be underground in Egypt). While Christianity has historically helped science and technology to advance, it is now may actually be blocking our progress to understand the mind. In this respect, he suggested that monotheistic religions (and the regions in which they dominate the socio-political landscape) may prove to be at a comparative disadvantage in the coming years.

- On emotions, he shared a device he uses to capture different emotions that he feels at across time. The device then does a factor analysis of these emotions and provides a "most like" list of previous experiences that contained similar emotional states. This is part of a project he calls the lifetime information preservation system. While relatively crude, he is absolutely on the right track of trying to understand the dynamic emotional changes that occur throughout one's life. While today we share photographs with our descendants, tomorrow we will be able to share our most intimate emotional experiences.

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NBIC 2004 - Simplexify Says Josh Wolfe

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Like last year, trustworthy Josh Wolfe, editor of the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, made the point that the real opportunities in nanotechnology do not come from leveraging Moore’s law-like advancements to make gadgets smaller and more powerful (although conference chair Mike Roco rightly made the point that this will still be valuable), but instead come from leveraging the new properties that materials exhibit when one begins to manipulate materials at the nanoscale. He called this process, simplexification.

Other salient points included an update on Nanosys Inc.'s progress and a recent discussion with Michael Mauboussin on the coming nano-IPO window. It was good to have lunch with Josh again.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 Highlights

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I'll be posting highlights from NBIC 2004 throughout the day. My talk on emerging neuropolicy issues went very well. Here is a response I received from John Sargent, senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce:

I found your talk thought-provoking and the implications profound. I would like to have you come in and talk about your work with Under Secretary Bond and some of my colleagues at Commerce.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05