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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Brain Waves

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November 27, 2006

Mental Illness in Our Troubled Children Grows

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Over the past month the NYTimes has published a series of important articles about the increasing number of children whose problems are diagnosed as serious mental disorders. At least six million American children have difficulties that are diagnosed as serious mental disorders, according to government surveys — a number that has tripled since the early 1990's.

The earlier articles examined one family’s experience and the uncertainty of diagnosis. Later articles look at the transition to adulthood, the role of parents and the marketing of drugs for children. I won't attempt to synthesize the articles here in blog format as it wouldn't do the exceptional journalism justice. Instead I recommend taking an hour of time next weekend to read all three articles in their entirety. They are sure to stir emotions and reactions in all of us.

Don't miss this multimedia graphic that shows different class of psychiatric medications and their use in children, click here.

Part 1: Living With Love, Chaos and Haley, By PAM BELLUCK -- The families of children diagnosed with mental disorders are often left on their own to sort through a cacophony of conflicting advice.

Part 2: What’s Wrong With a Child? Psychiatrists Often Disagree, By BENEDICT CAREY -- Increasing numbers of children are being treated for psychiatric problems, but naming those problems remains more an art than a science.

Part 3: Proof Is Scant on Psychiatric Drug Mix for Young, By Gardiner Harris -- I also recommend checking out the opinions printed in response to this article. You can also post your own opinions here.

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

November 21, 2006

Recent Neurotech Regulatory and Financing News

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Here is some recent news relevant to the NIO community that FasterCures brought to my attention:

FDA looks at increasing access to experimental drugs
The FDA plans to create two proposals involving the use of experimental drugs for seriously ill patients with few treatment options, according to sources. One proposal will clarify, formalize and simplify how the drugs can be made available to patients while the other involves the price that can be charged for the drugs. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) (11/9)

Nonprofit funding groups help in drug R&D
Companies increasingly are looking toward nonprofit funding organizations to help in the research and development of new drugs, collaborations referred to as product development partnerships. Nonprofits benefit, too. "We work with partners to ensure availability and affordability. The key is that the end products reach people," a nonprofit director said. The Scientist (free registration) (11/1)

Experts urge more taxpayer funding to support FDA
Witnesses at a Senate hearing said the FDA budget should include increased taxpayer funding, in addition to increased fees paid by the companies it regulates. The change would ease public concerns that the agency is compromised by its reliance on industry fees. The hearing focused on a bipartisan bill to strengthen the FDA's role in ensuring the safety of new drugs. The Washington Post/Associated Press (free registration) (11/16)

Problems abound in fund-raising for rare diseases
Richard K. Olney, an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis researcher, fund-raiser and patient has encountered roadblocks common to raising money for research into rare diseases. Tough economic times, less awareness and recognition, and competition from other charity causes -- including ones with a larger pool of patients or patients who live longer and can stay more active in the efforts -- can make it difficult to attract attention and funds to rare diseases. The Wall Street Journal (free content) (11/21)

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

November 20, 2006

How to Win on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" Using Neuroscience

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Posted by Zack Lynch

millions_article.jpgRecently a graduate student - named Ogi - studying the cognitive neuroscience of memory decided to leverage his knowledge to gain an edge on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" Blogger Rashmi explains:

For his $16,000 question - "Which country first published the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed?", Ogi used priming (to activate memories of a conversation he had with a friend about the issue) and successfully recalled that the country was Denmark.

For his $250,00 question - "The department store Sears got its start by selling what specific product in its first catalog?", he had an intuition that "watches" was the right answer. Memory research tells us that if you can trace where an intuition is coming from, then you can better decide whether to trust that intuition or not. In his case, he recalled that the "watches" choice brought up "railroads". He reasoned that there maybe he had read somewhere about Sears sending watches by railroad and went with the answer.

Here is a link to a fun article written by Ogi on his millionaire experience in Seed Magazine.

From Ogi after getting the $500K question correct..."My neurohormones whipped from black misery to shining ebullience, saturating my brain in a boiling cauldron of epinephrine and endorphins. I gaped at the azure screen in front of me as the ultimate question coalesced in hot white font."

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

November 17, 2006

Neuroethics Links

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Posted by Zack Lynch

braintree-thumb.jpgAdvancing neurotechnologies represent opportunities and challenges for humanity. Here are some of the sources I follow to keep up with the neuroethicists who are debating the social implications of neurotech: Stanford’s Program in Neuroethics, Neuroethics Net, UPenn Neuroethics, Neuroethics & Law Blog, BrainEthics Blog, CCLE,, Dana Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, World Health Organization- Ethics & Health. Here is a link to previous neuroethics posts on Brain Waves, a little over 40 of them.

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

November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman Nobel Economist Passes On at 94

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Posted by Zack Lynch

images-1.jpgMilton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who played a key role in the intellectual resurgence of capitalism and the global shift to free-market economics in the final third of the 20th century, died today at a San Francisco hospital. He was 94. The cause of death was heart failure. A Boston Globe article recalled how at a 90th-birthday tribute, the columnist George F. Will described Dr. Friedman as “the most consequential public intellectual of the 20th century.” Few rivaled Dr. Friedman, a self-described “classical liberal,” in the 19th-century sense, in shaping the intellectual climate of the 21st century. Milton Friedman was a great man who contributed immensely to humanity. He will always be one of my intellectual heroes. Here is a biography.

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

November 14, 2006

Top Ten Reasons For Personalized Medicine

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I just spent the past two days at a Personalized Medicine conference sponsored by Burrill and the Personalized Medicine Coalition. Among the many interesting sessions, dominated by diagnostic company CEOs, Ed Abrahams, the PMC's Executive Director gave a talk that covered the top 10 value propositions for supporting and promoting personalized medicine. Advocates of personalized medicine have stressed its potential to:

1) Detect disease at an earlier stage, when it is easier to treat effectively
2) Enable the selection of optimal therapy and reduce trial-and-error prescribing
3) Reduce adverse drug reactions
4) Increase patient compliance with therapy
5) Improve the selection of targets for drug discovery
6) Reduce the time, cost, and failure rate of clinical trials
7) Revive drugs that failed clinical trials or were withdrawn from the market
8) Avoid withdrawal of marketed drugs
9) Shift the emphasis in medicine from reaction to prevention
10) Reduce the overall cost of healthcare

Logo_PersMed_06.gifSeems like a list we could all agree would be great to have. To support his presentation, the PMC published a pithy primer on the topic of personalized medicine which I recommend. (Download report here). As an aside, from my conversations it looks interest in developing diagnostics for neurological diseases is on the rise, but still far behind the developments in oncology.

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

November 10, 2006

The Search for Emotional Truth

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Mindhacks points to a new series on Psyblog that will focus on the search for emotional truth, an area of inquiry of the upmost importance.

This is the first in a series of posts examining these and related ideas. But, first of all, I want to lay the groundwork for the discussion with a brief excursion into philosophy. Why start with a philosophical view of emotion? Because once you enter into the helter-skelter scramble for facts and theories that is modern psychology it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees or even which forest you're in. A philosophical view allows us to get a handle on the big picture, to have a general view about what emotions are for and where they come from, before we plunge into the details.

We'll have to see where this inquiry takes us but one thing is for sure, having spent thousands of years improving our control over the physical environment, new tools are being developed to address the mental stress that arises from living in a highly connected urbanized world. Neurotechnologies that allow people to experience life in ways that are currently unattainable will emerge, enabling people to consciously shape emotional states, improve cognitive clarity and transform sensory experiences. As people begin to experience life less constrained by their evolutionarily influenced brain chemistry how will human society change?

Because our mental perspective slants our thinking, self-reflection and recollection of events, even a slight shift in human perception will alter how people learn, feel and react to personal problems, economic crises and cultural rhetoric. When humans more directly shape their emotions, how will this impact personal relationships, political opinion and cultural beliefs?

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

November 2, 2006

Welcome to the World Kyle Lynch

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Casey delivered our first child, a bouncing baby boy, on October 9th at 11:37am. We couldn't be happier! Here is an adorable photo of Kyle Crawford Lynch a day after his arrival. We love you Kyle.


Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: X-tra