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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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THE NEURO REVOLUTION
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October 31, 2007

A Scary Illusion - Mr. Angry and Ms. Calm

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Posted by Zack Lynch

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If you look at the above images from your seat in front of the computer, Mr. Angry is on the left, and Ms.Calm is on the right. Now, get up from your seat, and move back 10 or 12 feet, and PRESTO!! they switch places!! It is said this illusion was created by Phillippe G.Schyns and Aude Oliva. Hat Tip to Dan.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Culture & the Brain

October 29, 2007

Careers in Neuroscience and Neurotech

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Posted by Zack Lynch

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"The subject areas that qualify as neuroscience are as far-reaching and as interconnected as neurons themselves. Consequently, neuroscientists often work on questions that span several distinct subfields. Many neuroscience programs are interdepartmental and take on the structure of an institute rather than a department." Emma Hitt writes a good overview of careers in neuroscience for Science magazine this week in Careers in Neuroscience: From Protons to Poetry. My three cents was that a strong demand exists for people with regulatory and clinical trial management expertise related to neurological diseases and psychiatric illnesses. For jobs in the neurotech industry check out NIO's job board.

"Whatever path a student decides upon, neuroscience is replete with opportunities for graduate students and postdocs who have given thought to planning their career path. People who are just entering into this field will be the Nobel Prize winners of this next generation, says Insel. "This really is the place for the brightest and the best students to jump in because we know so little, and the opportunities are so great."

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

October 12, 2007

Neural Prosthetics Algorithm Advance

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Posted by Zack Lynch

covernp.jpgMIT researchers have developed a new algorithm to help create prosthetic devices that convert brain signals into action in patients who have been paralyzed or had limbs amputated. The technique, described in a paper published as the cover article in the October edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology, unifies seemingly disparate approaches taken by experimental groups that prototype these neural prosthetic devices in animals or humans. "The work represents an important advance in our understanding of how to construct algorithms in neural prosthetic devices for people who cannot move to act or speak," said Lakshminarayan "Ram" Srinivasan, lead author of the paper.

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

October 11, 2007

Neuroethics Society Invites Undergrads to Join

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Posted by Zack Lynch

exposed_brain.jpgThe Neuroethics Society mission is to promote the development and responsible application of neuroscience through better understanding of its capabilities and its consequences. The Society currently invites undergraduate students in relevant fields to join as members.

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

October 10, 2007

$10M for New MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project

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Posted by Zack Lynch

lanp.jpg“Neuroscience could have an impact on the legal system that is as dramatic as DNA testing,” MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton said. “Neuroscientists need to understand law, and lawyers need to understand neuroscience." Putting their money where it counts, the MacArthur Foundation has funded The Law and Neuroscience Project to the tune of $10M for the next three years. The project includes three research networks on these central aspects of criminal responsibility: diminished brains, addiction, and medically normal decision-making. Each network is co-directed by a neuroscientist and a legal expert.

Proponents of neuroscientific evidence say it can help make the judicial system more accurate and less biased on matters of guilt, punishment, and treatment, on the detection of lies and bias, and in the prediction of criminal behavior. They believe the result could be less crime and fewer people in prisons. Skeptics fear that brain-imaging technology poses a threat to privacy and notions of personal responsibility. Both scientists and legal scholars warn that failing to properly integrate neuroscience and law could harm the legal system by sending the wrong people to prison, and by creating skepticism about some of the law’s basic assumptions.

“Neuroscientific evidence has already been used to persuade jurors in sentencing decisions, and courts have admitted brain-imaging evidence during criminal trials to support pleas of insanity,” said Michael Gazzaniga, co-director of the project. “Without a solid, mutual understanding of each others’ fields, lawyers and judges cannot respond in an informed way to developments in neuroscience, and scientists cannot properly advise lawyers or recognize the legal relevance of their current and future research.”

The Gruter Institute will lead the education and outreach work under the grant, overseeing numerous yearly conferences aimed at educating state and federal judges and others in the legal arena about neuroscientific findings relevant to the law. This agenda has been a long time coming and the Gruter Institute has played a major role over the past two decades in cultivating these important memes. Kudos to Gruter and the rest of the scholars involved in helping us prepare for our emerging neurosociety.

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

October 4, 2007

Policy Focus: Neurotech Leaves the Nest but Waits for Policy Push

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Posted by Zack Lynch

splogo.gifI've recently joined the advisory board of a new publication called Science Progress which aims to influence US public policy by embracing the best of American scientific and political thought. On the website you can find several interesting articles including a piece by Vint Cerf who reflects forward on our nation’s incredible ability to respond swiftly to complex scientific challenges as well as an op-ed article that I wrote, BrainTech is Here: Neurotechnology Leaves the Nest but Waits for Policy Push, where I attempt to succinctly explain the reasons why we need a National Neurotechnology Initiative. Here is the beginning of the article, I recommend reading the rest on Science Progress.

There’s no mistaking the progress. Neurotechnology—the tools to treat and understand the brain and nervous system—holds the potential to transform nearly every aspect of our lives and revolutionize our conception of the human mind.

Imagine walking into a doctor’s office where an advanced brain scanning system can detect cellular-level changes that signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, years before any physical or mental symptoms manifest. You and your loved ones’ quality of life could then be extended by decades with a treatment plan personalized to your specific case. Today, brain imaging technologies such as this are only just beginning to illuminate the causes of brain-related illnesses. But a wide chasm must still be crossed if we are to develop effective treatments for the nearly 100 million Americans and 2 billion people worldwide that currently suffer from brain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

The annual national economic burden of brain-related disorders has reached over $1 trillion (see chart) and is growing alarmingly due to an aging population. While research into the brain and brain-related illnesses is moving forward more rapidly than any other science today, our understanding of how the brain works still has many gaps and our ability to repair damage remains limited. Critical unmet medical needs exist in almost every area of brain and nervous system disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, anxiety, autism, depression, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, pain, sensory disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke, schizophrenia, sleep disorders, and traumatic brain injury.

Investigation into the mechanisms and functions of the brain will lead to vastly improved understanding of brain disease and injuries, human cognition and behavior, and will give us an unprecedented ability to treat and heal those in need, as well as begin to reduce this growing burden on our economy. But all of this won’t happen on its own.... (read on)

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

October 3, 2007

Economic Burden of Chronic Diseases Report Released

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Posted by Zack Lynch

familyonbeach.jpgThe Milken Institute released an impressive study that demonstrates the heavy economic burden chronic disease places on our nation. “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” shows the current treatment costs of seven chronic diseases (cancers, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders and pulmonary conditions) and the economic impacts of lost workdays and lower employee productivity across all 50 states and the nation as a whole. The study finds that the annual economic impact on the U.S. economy of the most common chronic diseases is more than $1 trillion, and could reach nearly $6 trillion by the middle of the century. This study will be an important addition to the ongoing debate over the costs of health care in the United States, and what can be done to reduce this economic burden.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues

October 2, 2007

NERV - NASDAQ NeuroInsights Neurotech Index is Live

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Posted by Zack Lynch

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NERV, the Nasdaq NeuroInsights Neurotech Index was launched last week and is now live. NIO and NeuroInsights hosted a media tour in NYC for several executives from Neurotech index companies including, Uli Hacksell, CEO of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals; Jim Brown, CEO of DURECT Corporation; Ron Cohen, CEO of Acorda Therapeutics; Elliot Ehrich, CMO of Alkermes; and David Hung, CEO of Medivation. Casey and I and the executives traveled to Forbes where we met met with Bob Langreth and Matt Herper at Forbes, five reporters at the Wall Street Journal and the editorial team at Scientific American Mind. To track NERV I recommend going to Nasdaq.com or Yahoo Finance and type in ^NERV(the ^ symbol is used for indices).

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NERV - Neurotech Index