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 30, 2007

Neurodevice Market Trends Webcast this Wednesday

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Zack%20Lynch%20-%20Neurodevices%2C%20Neurotech.pngTake 10 minutes and join me as I give an overview of the neurodevice marketplace and the trends that are driving the exceptional growth in this $3.4B sector. The Medtech Marketplace in 2007 webcast, sponsored by MX Magazine, will also have five other medtech analysts sharing their views on topics such as imaging, orthopedics, in vitro diagnostics, and cardiovascular devices. My talk is first in the line up and the webcast is free, just sign up here. Webcast goes from 11am - noon (Pacific) Wednesday, January 31st. Make sure to sign up a few minutes early.

Update: Follow this link to the archived webcast. (look for Access the Archive Link) You'll still need to fill out a registration form but if you are looking for an overview of the neurodevice sector it will be worth it.

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

January 24, 2007

Forgetting the Future

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Until very recently, there was a little known finding that if you have an amnesic person who struggles to remember the past, then they're probably not good at envisioning the future. But why is this?

hippocampus-2.gifThe results of a new neuroimaging study conducted at the University College London show that the hippocampus, which has long been known to be a brain region intimately tied to memory, is also harnessed to construct possible futures. If the hippocampus is damaged, then one will have both a hard time remembering the past and envisioning the future.

According to Harvard's cognitive neuroscientist Donna Addis, this research could have interesting implications for aging. The hippocampus is one of the first brain regions to show signs of deterioration as we get older and her research suggests that the ability to envision the future experiences also declines as people age. So, maybe treatments for conditions like Age-Associated Memory Impairment might will not only improve our memory but also our future outlook.

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

January 16, 2007

Take a Free Cognitive Brain Health Test

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Posted by Zack Lynch

brain.jpgEveryone can relate to improving their brain health, whether it is an elite team of executives looking to optimize their effectiveness, or an individual concerned about brain aging or a distinct problem. Recently, The Brain Resource Company launched a free, confidential, 40-minute cognitive brain test in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research. The company is offering the test at no cost until May 14, 2007. I haven't taken it yet, but it might be an interesting way to obtain a baseline against which to monitor changes over time.

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

January 12, 2007

Center for Neurotechnology Studies Launched at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

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Posted by Zack Lynch

CNS-Logo-Final%20small%201.5in.jpgThe Potomac Institute for Policy Studies has announced the launch of The Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS) which intends on providing neutral, in-depth analysis of matters at the intersection of neuroscience and technology—neurotechnology—and public policy. The Center will anticipate ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) associated with emerging neurotechnology, and shepherd constructive discourse on these issues. It will provide a forum for reasoned consideration of these subjects both by experts and the public.

CNS will provide expert support to government agencies pursuing neurotechnology on the science itself as well as the ELSI-related topics, and develop policy options to address them. The Center will cultivate knowledge and inspire discussion on the implications of neurotechnology in legislative, administrative, regulative, judicial, academic, and entrepreneurial enterprises. As a result, it is expected that the Center will become a highly-sought partner by the research community for advice, partnership, and advocacy for the public and private funding of key neurotechnology research. CNS Interim Director, Potomac Institute President Dr. Dennis McBride, said, “It is more than exciting for Potomac to provide a leadership role for this rapidly expanding community. This technology will revolutionize life as we know it.”

This is a very important and welcome development for the neurotechnology community. As I've been writing for the past four years here on Brain Waves, the societal implications of neurotechnology are profound and it is critical that the public discourse related to the ethical, legal, and social issues should be dramatically expanded. The CNS should definitely help in this effort.

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

January 9, 2007

Neurobiology of Love - 6th Neuroesthetics Conference

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Posted by Zack Lynch

love.jpg"What is this thing called love, which has been described as “a catastrophe – but a highly desirable catastrophe” and in the service of which humans have reached the heights and plumbed the depths of experience? Why is our judgment often blurred or suspended when we fall passionately in love? Why does it lead to euphoria and depression? What is its chemistry? Which areas of the brain become engaged when we fall in love and when we view our lovers, or when we make love? Why are voles and birds and humans sometimes monogamous and sometimes polygamous? Why does the world literature of love so often paint a gloomy picture - of adulterous lovers who seek an escape in its, and their own, annihilation - and what neurobiological lessons can we draw from that literature?"

Come and listen to leading neurobiologists from America and Europe discussing these issues and presenting their latest findings at the Sixth International Meeting on Neuroesthetics which will take place on Saturday, January 20, 2007 on the UC Berkeley campus. I'll see you there.

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

January 1, 2007

Why Do We Remember Pop Songs? - Neuroesthetics Wants to Know

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Every January I like to circle back around to one of the most fun and fascinating areas of brain research, the emerging field of neuroesthetics, the study of the neurobiology of artistic creativity and achievement. In years past I have written posts on the "Flavors of Experience", "Empathy and Art in the Brain", Celebrating Obsessive Art and "Emotions in Art and the Brain". While the substance of these previous posts were scientific conferences, this year the NYTimes finally caught up on the subject with a excellent article on the front page of the Arts and Leisure section on December 31. Written by Clive Thompson, "Music of the Hemispheres" follows the musical life and research of Dr. Daniel Levitin who has been studying musical abilities in individuals with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves people with low intelligence but high levels of music ability.

Bennie.JPG.jpgIn his research he has also been scanning the brains of listeners trying to answer questions like "Are our brains wired for sound?", "Does the brain experience a live performance different from a recorded one?" and "Why are pop music memories be so sharply encoded (in our brain)?" In trying to answer the last question he hypothesized that perhaps music triggers the reward centers in our brains. From the Times article:

In a study published last year Dr. Levitin and group of neuroscientists mapped out precisely how. Observing 13 subjects who listened to classical music while in an M.R.I. machine, the scientists found a cascade of brain-chemical activity. First the music triggered the forebrain, as it analyzed the structure and meaning of the tune. Then the nucleus accumbus (actually the area is called the nucleus accumbens)and ventral tegmental area activated to release dopamine, a chemical that triggers the brain’s sense of reward.

The cerebellum, an area normally associated with physical movement, reacted too, responding to what Dr. Levitin suspected was the brain’s predictions of where the song was going to go. As the brain internalizes the tempo, rhythm and emotional peaks of a song, the cerebellum begins reacting every time the song produces tension (that is, subtle deviations from its normal melody or tempo).

“When we saw all this activity going on precisely in sync, in this order, we knew we had the smoking gun,” he said. “We’ve always known that music is good for improving your mood. But this showed precisely how it happens.”

The subtlest reason that pop music is so flavorful to our brains is that it relies so strongly on timbre. Timbre is a peculiar blend of tones in any sound; it is why a tuba sounds so different from a flute even when they are playing the same melody in the same key. Popular performers or groups, Dr. Levitin argued, are pleasing not because of any particular virtuosity, but because they create an overall timbre that remains consistent from song to song. That quality explains why, for example, I could identify even a single note of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.”

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neuroesthetics