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.
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January 26, 2006

The Neurotech Industry Investing & Business Conference – May 18, S.F.

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Profiting from advances in drugs, devices and diagnostics for the brain and nervous system. Expand your network and hear from over 40 CEOs, investors, and researchers who reveal why biotech, medtech and IT investors are funding neurotechnology. Register now at early rate

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

January 25, 2006

Women's Technology Cluster Hosts Stem Cell Conference

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Posted by Zack Lynch


The Women's Technology Cluster is hosting a one-day Stem Cell conference at UCSF Mission Bay on February 7th. Over 30 internationally renowned panelists from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore will explore the potential challenges to commercialization and make recommendations for a successful and time effective transition from lab to patient. Speakers will also investigate how to effectively build alliances across key research and industry groups in the US and internationally.

Topics covered include: building a common language; translating the research into the clinic; building alliances across academia, industry and non-profits; models for commercialization of stem cell outcomes; International alliances and stem cell landscape and new developments in stem science. Click here to register.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: SF Focus

January 24, 2006

The Female Brain Revealed This August

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Posted by Zack Lynch

While doing research as a medical student at Yale and then as a resident and faculty member at Harvard, Louann Brizendine discovered that almost all of the clinical data in existence on neurology, psychology, and neurobiology focused exclusively on males. In response to this, Brizendine established the first clinic in the country to study and treat women’s brains. At the same time, the National Institute of Health began to regularly include female subjects in its studies for the first time. The combined result has been an
explosion of new data on the female brain.

The%20Female%20Brain%20Book.jpgIn The Female Brain, due out in August 2006, Dr. Brizendine answers questions like why are women more verbal than men? Why do women remember details of fights that men cannot? Why do women tend to form deeper bonds with their female friends than men do with their male counterparts? Exploring these questions and many others that have stumped the sexes throughout the ages, this revolutionary book combines two decades of Brizendine’s own work, real life stories from her clinical practice, and all of the latest information from the scientific community at large to provide a truly comprehensive look at the way women’s minds work.

LOUANN BRIZENDINE, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF. She is founder and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic, and lives in San Francisco. Here is a look at the table of contents

Chapter 1 Birth of the Female Brain
Chapter 2 Teen Girl Brain
Chapter 3 Love and Trust
Chapter 4 Sex
Chapter 5 Mommy Brain
Chapter 6 Emotions
Chapter 7 Mature Female Brain
Epilogue: The Future of the Female Brain
Appendix: The Female Brain and Hormone Therapy
Appendix: The Female Brain and Postpartum Depression

While I have yet to get my hands on a copy of the book, I have had an opportunity to bump into Louann several times over the past few years as she was writing this book. I must say I've rarely seen such dedication. Even if it was a beautiful Sausalito summer day, you could bet that she was busy exploring and explaining the inner workings of the female brain. Given the paucity of accessible information and esteemed nature of the author I would suggest that this will quickly become a must read for all of us.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (2) | Category: Culture & the Brain

January 20, 2006

January 19, 2006

NYC's Neurofest Explores Nexus of Art and Neuroscience

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Posted by Zack Lynch

For those of you in the NYC area you might drop in on one of the many performances in progress at this month's NEUROfest.

Untitled Theater Company #61 explores the nexus of science and art in NEUROfest, the first-ever theater festival dedicated to neurological conditions from January 5 through 29, 2006. Among the performances:

CJD: A multimedia one man show written and performed by a neurologist about his experience with a patient with CJD, augmented with live music performance.

Impostors: After a brain injury, a son believes his parents have been replaced with exact duplicates of themselves, triggering a series of events that threatens to unravel the entire family. Based on a rare neurological condition called Capgras' Syndrome, Impostors is a quirky, funny, heartfelt exploration of the contradictions and distortions that hold all families together. Impostors won the Kennedy Center-ACTF playwriting contest for the Mid-Atlantic region, and was also a finalist for the Abingdon Theatre's Wolk Award and the Princess Grace Award.

117120logo.jpgNEUROshorts: A collection of short plays including The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Robot, Doctors Jane and Alexander, The Taste of Blue and Vestibular.

Strangers and Linguish: Linguish posits a disease which causes aphasia, the neurological disorder that takes away one's ability to use language. Four relative strangers are among the first to be affected, and are thrown together in quarantine. As the disease affects them, they are forced to try to find new ways to communicate. In Strangers a man and a woman are in what seems to be a waiting room. Is it a doctor's waiting room? If so, what's wrong?

Syndrome: A play about a man sitting in his room attempting to muster the courage to meet his parents for dinner. We quickly discover that there are reasons for his anxiety, stemming from his submission to Syndrome, a "spectrum of psychological disorders" that have taken over his mind via the following code words: Tourette's, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Paranoia, and Delusion. Of course, this man is perfectly normal, but he has a job to do. He must conquer Syndrome. And the only way to do that is by fully engaging, and then defusing, his manic-depressive array of memories, obsessions, and tics.

Tabula Rasa: An opera/theater work of three interlocking stories about children lost in the woods: Tabula Rasa examines the effects of nature and nurture, and the fundamental meaning of language and human relationships.

Welcome to Tourettaville!: A musical inspired by a young boy's dreamworld where 4 aliens

Cincinatti: A one-woman show starring Nancy Walsh, a portrait of madness--originally performed after the removal of a brain tumor from Nancy Walsh, allowing her to only say things she had already memorized.

Box Office Hours: 1/2 before any show. Thanks to Mahoney for the headsup on the Festival.

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

January 17, 2006

Good versus Am I Good?

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Is there a difference between how our brains file information about ourselves versus general information about our environment? Yes. The neurolearning blog has a great post titled personal learner on this subject that I highly recommend clicking over to and reading. You might pay special attention to all the great links at the end of their post.

This study is a good reminder that when we really personalize information (general knowledge vs. knowledge that we relate to ourselves), we change how the information is filed, and increase the likelihood that it will be remembered and used later.

The figure below shows the brain activity differences in subjects either reading a list of personality traits or reading and reflecting whether the traits applied to them (e.g. good, kind vs. Am I good? Am I kind?).

Self-referential information is remembered best.
Two reflections for teaching - first, it's worthwhile to know that personal learning is not only more motivating, but it is also more memorable. For some teachers, this may mean they have to work hard to connect new information with what students already know. Connections might be intersections personal events, histories, or interests, analogical situations or themes from current events, or parallels concepts in different disciplines.

Second, there are some students with such a strong preference for personal learning that it seems it is the only way they learn. Be on the look out for these kids. These students may have erratic performances in different subjects (might depend on the teacher or how the subject is taught), and yet clearly be very knowledgeable. Strong personal learners may be gregarious people who are natural story-tellers...because it's who they are as stories are very personal.

As strong personal learners grow older, many may recognize this trait more. More will be able to consciously choose the situations in which they can thrive.

Please see the neurolearning blog for many more insightful posts.

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

January 11, 2006

January 9, 2006

The Neurotech Industry Conference May 18th - A Must Attend Event

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you have ever found the information I post on Brain Waves to be valuable, then I highly recommend that you attend a conference I have been planning: The Neurotechnology Industry Investment and Business Conference to be held on May 18th in San Francisco. The NeuroInsights team has looked across the globe to bring you 40 of the leading doers and thinkers from across the neurotech landscape.


Investors, executives, entrepreneurs, and leading researchers involved in the development of new drugs, devices and diagnostics for the brain and nervous system are coming together to shape the future of their organization and the neurotechnology industry.

This market defining one-day conference features keynotes on state of the neurotech industry, cutting edge company presentations, and panel discussions on a comprehensive selection of neurotech topics of interest to biotech, medtech, and IT investors and executives.

• Learn who investing in neurotech and why
• What start ups are getting funded
• How are public neurotech companies stocks performing
• Learn in what markets devices are competing with pharma
• Hear how brain imaging and informatics impacting drug development
• Learn what venture and strategic investors are looking for
• Discover emerging technologies and companies
• Find out about new licensing and partnering opportunities
• Learn about translational research & funding opportunities

Hear about next generation treatments for Alzheimer’s, addiction, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hearing loss, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, pain, Parkinson’s, stroke, schizophrenia, stroke, vision loss and other brain-related illnesses.

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting session descriptions, speakers and other important information as it relates to the conference. If you intend on joining us, you can see the agenda by clicking here. I also recommend registering sooner rather than later to take advantage of our early-bird price.

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

January 5, 2006

Paying Attention with Play Attention

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Posted by Zack Lynch

In this month's Neurotech Insights we focused on the Attention markets. The following is a product review I did on a computer based "neurofeedback" software solution targeted at kids who are "attention challenged."

As the market for ADHD medication continues to grow, non-drug alternatives to treat less severe cases are emerging in the form of neurofeedback systems and less sophisticated computer games. Given the growing interest in non-drug treatment options for ADHD, we contacted the manufacturer of Play Attention, Unique Logic and Technology to take a test drive.

Play Attention is a computer game that uses brain waves, to move objects on a computer screen. Repetitive use of the training system is meant to improve attention, focus, and memory skills for children and others with ADHD, though people who are not “attention challenged” (as the company likes to put it), will also see improvement in their game performance.

Using technology originally developed to help pilots stay alert, the system utilizes a bike helmet lined with sensors connected to a computer. There are 5 games designed to improve different aspects of attention including attention stamina, visual tracking and discrimination of important vs. unimportant stimuli, and short term memory processing.

play%20attention.jpgIn the first game, the player must concentrate and stop fidgeting to make an action occur on the screen. If they are concentrating on the object (or a homework assignment), an object, like a UFO or bird, will move in a positive direction and collect power pellets, if they are not concentrating hard enough then the object will move in the opposite direction. For example, the bird will fly higher or descend depending on the level of player concentration.

As the student watches the screen, she learns to regulate her concentration in response to visual feedback from the computer. Results are measured as % of time on task and sessions last about ½ hour twice a week. The company spokesperson said that commonly a student will go from 50% of time on task for 5 minutes to around 80% time on task for after 12 hours of use. After 40-60 hours usually a student can stop using the system.

While our experience proved that a player would certainly get better at the game, it is difficult to tell in our short testing period whether this would translate into real life improvements. A noninvasive, no side effect treatment seems like a good first line option even if the efficacy or patient response rate is less than ideal. However, training games and feedback generally take a back seat to pharmaceuticals and will continue to do so, most likely because of the time to therapeutic impact. While medication, like Ritalin (methylphenidate) can improve symptoms in minutes, gaming can take months to years to show significant improvements, according to Dr. Leann Lesperance and Henry Bernstein of the Harvard Medical School.

According to their analysis, the “Play Attention system may improve symptoms in some children, but it may not help everyone. Although medications can help manage ADHD, there is no cure. You can expect continued research into the causes and treatments of ADHD. While the technology behind this system has been studied in pilots, it apparently has not been extensively studied in children with ADHD. Although preliminary findings seem encouraging, expect that researchers will continue to study its effectiveness.”

Other companies are also working to develop and sell neuroscience based computer games and neurofeedback systems. CyberLearning and Imagine Neuro Solutions sell competitive systems for improving attention, while Posit, Scientific Learning (SCIL), and Wild Devine, are developing training systems for “mental sharpness”, dyslexia, and emotional well being respectively. While the idea of a non FDA regulated, no side effect treatment is intriguing, most of these companies are still proving out their business models.

Play Attention has been on the market since 1996 and is currently being used in over 450 schools. The product has good features for coaching, performance tracking, and includes a module called “academic bridge” designed to translate the game performance to other tasks like homework.. Play attention is priced at $395. For more information, visit

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Neurodiagnostics