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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Brain Waves

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February 27, 2007

Two Billion Affected By All Brain-Related Illness

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Posted by Zack Lynch

NIO-Logo.jpgNIO sent out this press release in response to the WHO Report on Neurological Disorders in order to shed light on entire scope of the problem we face.

Neurotechnology Industry Organization: WHO Report Underscores, Underestimates Impact of Brain-Related Illness

Group calls on industry, political, investment leaders to address growing problem

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – February 27, 2007 – NIO, the Neurotechnology Industry Organization, today announced that a new World Health Organization (WHO) report which estimates that one billion people worldwide suffer from neurological disorders is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring the global impact of brain-related illness. According to NIO, when psychiatric illnesses including addiction, attention disorders, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and sleep disorders are incorporated, the number of people affected by brain disorders reaches nearly two billion, almost 100 million in the U.S. alone. The group estimates the global economic burden at $1 trillion per year.

“We applaud the WHO’s efforts to shed light on the very real and serious problem of worldwide neurological disorders,” said NIO Executive Director Zack Lynch. “Despite the large and growing unmet markets, massive economic cost, and untold human suffering, there are few effective treatments that delay, prevent and cure chronic neurological and psychiatric diseases.”

According to NIO the 500 companies worldwide focused on diseases of the brain, face fundamentally different investment requirements, research and development challenges, and regulatory milestones than other life science organizations. Despite significant hurdles, the industry is working to accelerate the development of new treatments by leveraging converging technological breakthroughs across biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology and neuroscience.

“As the global population ages, the burden of brain-related illness will continue to grow,” said Lynch. “The WHO report recommends a number of personal and political actions to help address this burden. NIO also calls upon the diverse neurotechnology companies across the medical device, diagnostic and drug development spectrum, as well as research institutions and advocacy organizations to work together and with legislators and regulators to accelerate investment, improve the clinical development process, and deliver effective treatments to individuals suffering worldwide.”

Download NIO release - Download file

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NIO

One Billion Affected by Neurological Disorders Says WHO

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Posted by Zack Lynch

A report released today from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that neurological disorders, ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer disease, from stroke to headache, affect up to one billion people worldwide. Neurological disorders also include brain injuries, neuroinfections, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson disease. The report, Neurological disorders: Public health challenges, reveals that of the one billion people affected worldwide, 50 million suffer from epilepsy and 24 million from Alzheimer and other dementias. Neurological disorders affect people in all countries, irrespective of age, sex, education or income. The report recommends a series of simple but effective actions. It argues for greater commitment from decision makers, increased social and professional awareness, strategies that address stigma and discrimination, national capacity building and international collaboration.

NOTE: This report specifically excludes psychiatric illnesses (follow link: What are neurological disorders) which would boost this number by another billion. This means that brain-related illnesses impact nearly 2 Billion people worldwide. Based on this new data I estimate that the global economic burden of brain illnesses now exceeds $2 Trillion a year.

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

February 22, 2007

Building New Businesses to Feed Your Brain Forum Tonight

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Whether you are young or old you have an interest in keeping your mind sharp and healthy, and in fixing any problems that might arise in the next years of your life. Now, advances in neuroscience are paving the way for a revolution in health care for your brain. Come see how an exciting crop of new companies are creating drugs, devices and therapies to help ensure your brain’s future health.

The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UC Berkeley is hosting an Entrepreneurs Forum on "Neuroscience Startups: Building New Businesses to Feed Your Brain" tonight. Join Dave Summa, CEO of Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Jeff Zimman, CEO of Posit Science, John Dobak, serial neurotech entrepreneur, moderator Jim Glasheen, General Partner at Technology Partners and me as we discuss the future of the neurotech industry. Event is from 6:30-8:30.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

February 16, 2007

Il domani e NeuroTech, Intervista, La Stampa

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Picture%203.pngHere is a three page interview published today in the weekly Italian news magazine "Lo Specchio", a supplement of the major daily national newspaper "La Stampa". Download file. Here are some of the questions translated with links deep into my blog containing similar answers and background.

1) You write that nanobiochips will emerge around 2012 and that the brain imaging bottleneck will be broken around 2015. Where do you get this schedule from? (A: By analyzing the history of techno-economic change and socio-political responses to forecast the neurosociety)

2) Will the rise of the neuroceuticals business give big pharmas even more power - economically but also from the point of view of influencing society (even single individuals) and its evolution? (A: They will change business via neurocompetitive advantage)

3) Do you expect any social or political opposition to the appearance of neuroceuticals?(A: Yes, see neuropolicy issues)

4) Do you personally think that a neurotech future is to be embraced with confidence? Which might be the biggest “pros” and the ugliest “cons”? (A: Empathy, our survival depends on it and neurowarfare)

5) 50 years from now shall we be more or less "human" than today? What could keep us human in the long run? Empathy, as you seem to suggest? (A: more human)

For the time being, you'll have to read Italian if you'd like the answers I gave in this article. I'll try and find some one to translate this. For more information on our emerging neurosociety, check out

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

February 14, 2007

There is Always Some Madness in Love

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Brought to you by MindHacks:

Highlighting the striking parallels between our least understood and most exalted states of mind, Nietzsche commented that "there is always some madness in love".

Perhaps the reason love has such a good reputation when compared to other forms of madness, is its effect on mood.

Euphoria, arousal, elation, talkativeness and flights of fancy can fill the mind in the most pleasurable way and it's interesting that these are also core symptoms of mania - one end of the manic-depressive spectrum.

The defining feature of madness is delusion, however, where the affected person holds a fixed, unrealistic belief despite persuasive contrary evidence.

People in love are notorious for their unusual beliefs and, indeed, research has shown that we tend to hold unlikely and overly positive beliefs about our lovers.

Romance doesn't even need a willing partner in some cases, as people who are diagnosed with de Clerambault's syndrome (also known as erotomania) hold the delusional belief that another person is in love with them, even if they've never met.

The original subject of de Clerambault's seminal case study was a 53 year old woman who believed that King George V was in love with her and signalled his desires by moving the curtains of Buckingham Palace.

It seems madness and love are, in many ways, soul mates, and perhaps we should be grateful for their shared history.

Indeed, madness is at its most spectacular when shared, and the prospect of falling sanely in love with someone surely seems to miss the point.

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

February 13, 2007

Lifeboat Foundation - Safe Guarding Humanity

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Posted by Zack Lynch

about.jpgI recently joined the Lifeboat Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board for neuroscience and human trajectories. The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI. The lifeboat Foundation is pursuing a variety of options, including helping to accelerate the development of technologies to defend humanity, including new methods to combat viruses (such as RNA interference and new vaccine methods), effective nanotechnological defensive strategies, and even self-sustaining space colonies in case the other defensive strategies fail. I recommend taking a look at the programs in development like the neuroethics shield.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NeuroWave 2050

February 8, 2007

Janelia Farm Targets Two Tough Neurotech Problems

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Posted by Zack Lynch

1.jpgWhat began as an idea sketched out on the back of a napkin has led—after six years of intense planning, construction, and recruiting—to the opening of the Janelia Farm Research Campus, a new scientific community created by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Janelia Farm's overall objective is to pursue fundamental problems in basic biomedical research that are difficult to approach in academia or industry, because they require expertise from disparate areas; they are too long-term for standard funding mechanisms; or they are outside the current priorities of other funding agencies.

After holding a series of workshops and consulting with the Advisory Committee, HHMI tightened its focus to two synergistic areas that are particularly well matched to the Janelia Farm environment, both related to neurotech:

1) The identification of general principles that govern how information is processed by neuronal circuits

2) The development of imaging technologies and computational methods for image analysis

Both of these projects are areas of great need and will help increase our understanding of how the human brain functions and malfunctions, leading to new neurotherapeutics for brain-related illnesses. While the team is just getting underway, you can expect great progress in next decade coming from here.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Brain Foundations

February 2, 2007

Neuroeconomics - Science Fiction or Science?

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Posted by Zack Lynch


The Harvard Working Knowledge group recently posted this question and asked the greater community to answer it with the following executive summary:

The growing use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices for studying decision making means that in 2007 we may hear a number of striking conclusions based on studies involving a small number of brain scans, says Jim Heskett. What are the more general implications of this trend? Will it have strong explanatory as well as manipulative potential for us as consumers, managers, and citizens?

Two weeks and 61 comments later, the results are in:
"Neuro economics is here to stay, according to a majority of those responding to this month's column. Its promises are too great to ignore. But it may be too early to know whether the promises will be realized in practice. And in the meantime, we stand warned against the hype that will be associated with findings based on research in need of standards and more fully-developed methods….

Among questions this leaves us with are whether this research is valuable primarily in the aggregate or in individual cases. If so, just how long will it take for practical results? And will the early "wins" be sufficiently significant to foster longer term development in the field? Is it too early to tell? What do you think?"

Practical results are already emerging from neuroeconomic research as cutting edge neuroscience trained investors begin to leverage neurofinancial techniques to improve investment performance. As David Darst, chief investment strategist for the $700 billion individual investor group at New York-based Morgan Stanley, recently said, “One day, brain science may help money managers spot shifts in investor sentiment.” With trillions of dollars on the line each day, you can bet that the future is coming very fast.

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