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

Monthly Archives

November 28, 2007

Blue Brain Project Moves Onto Whole Brain, Really?

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Posted by Zack Lynch

bluebrain_x220.jpg"An ambitious project to create an accurate computer model of the brain has reached an impressive milestone, writes today's Technology Review. "Scientists in Switzerland working with IBM researchers have shown that their computer simulation of the neocortical column, arguably the most complex part of a mammal's brain, appears (emphasis added) to behave like its biological counterpart. By demonstrating that their simulation is realistic, the researchers say, these results suggest that an entire mammal brain could be completely modeled within three years, and a human brain within the next decade.

"What we're doing is reverse-engineering the brain," says Henry Markram, codirector of the Brain Mind Institute at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, who led the work, called the Blue Brain project, which began in 2005. By mimicking the behavior of the brain down to the individual neuron, the researchers aim to create a modeling tool that can be used by neuroscientists to run experiments, test hypotheses, and analyze the effects of drugs more efficiently than they could using real brain tissue. The model of part of the brain was completed last year, says Markram. But now, after extensive testing comparing its behavior with results from biological experiments, he is satisfied that the simulation is accurate enough that the researchers can proceed with the rest of the brain."

The article goes onto to share the response of Christof Koch from Caltech who calls the 10 year target of modeling the human brain "ridiculous." Despite the fantastic progress to date I agree with Christof on this.

(Associated graphic is a representation of a mammalian neocortical column, the basic building block of the cortex. The representation shows the complexity of this part of the brain, which has now been modeled using a supercomputer. Credit: BBP/EPFL) Looks kind of like a Jackson Pollock painting.

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

November 27, 2007

Wine and Tech Moguls Champion Neurotech

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Tech Confidential writes a smart piece on how the Staglins are firmly behind neurotech.

"The best hope for curing mental illness is neurotechnology," says Staglin Family Vineyard owner Garen Staglin, who with wife Shari stopped by our office recently to discuss their efforts to raise funds for mental health research and their hopes for neurotech companies. This class of biotechnology firm develops drugs, devices and diagnostics to fight a range of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.... Meanwhile, the family has raised $53 million for brain research, through efforts including the annual Music Festival for Mental Health, held each September at their Napa Valley vineyard (where, incidentally, the Lindsay Lohan re-make of "The Parent Trap" was filmed). Among the biggest contributors to their efforts are venture capitalists Larry Mohr of Mohr Davidow Ventures, Joe Schoendorf of Accel Partners and Silicon Valley Bank CEO Ken Wilcox.

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

Neurodevice Sector to See A Flowering of Startups

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Posted by Zack Lynch

MPO%20cover.pngCheck out the cover story of Medical Product Outsourcing magazine in December for an extensive article on the neurodevice sector titled Brain Power. Among the topics covered are the Neurotech Industry Organization's National Neurotechnology Initiative, the Neurotech Index and the an overview of neurodevice markets. From the article:

"In the neurodevice sector, three major markets have emerged, according to Lynch. The largest is the $2.5 billion neurosurgical market, consisting of tools used for procedures such as tumor removals or neurovascular interventions (such as to treat stroke victims) using coils, balloons, stents and other products. Neuromodulation, which encompasses stimulation devices used to restore function, is a $1.38 billion market. The final category is neuroprosthetics, a $540 million market consisting of products such as cochlear implants for hearing-impaired individuals, implants for spinal injuries and retinal implants (still in development). In addition to these markets, another emerging area is neurosoftware. Although it’s currently a small segment ($75 million in 2006), several companies are working on software for use leveraging neuroplasticity and neurofeedback, among others, said Lynch.

“One thing that’s interesting in the neurodevice market is there’s no one company that participates in all four segments. There’s no gorilla in the marketplace,” Lynch said. As a result of all the potential innovation in this somewhat untapped market, Lynch believes the industry will see “a flowering” of many startups in the neurodevice sector."

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

November 8, 2007

Neurosocieties: the rise and impact of the new brain sciences

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I am off to London to speak at the first Neurosocieties conference sponsored by the European Neuroscience and Society Network (ENSN) to be held at the London School of Economics in the Regent's College Conference Center. It's hard to believe that it was only a five years ago when the notion of an emerging neurosociety was just a vague concept and now there is a 5-year funded project by the European Science Foundation to analyze the societal implications of neuroscience.

The chair of the ENSN, Nikolas Rose asked me several months ago to come and talk about the neuroeconomies aspect of the neurosociety along with Dr. Philippe Pignarre(University of Paris). The first day there will be three plenary sessions which will cover Public Health and the politics of the neurosciences with speakers Professor Kent Woods (Chief Executive Officer, UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) and Mathilde Leonardi (Neurological Institute Carlo Besta, Italy); Sources of the neurochemical self: consciousness, personhood and difference with Alexandre Mauron (University of Geneva) and Neuroeconomies: markets, choice and distribution of neurotechnologies which Pignarre and myself will be speaking on. The second day will begin with a series of workshops on these subjects followed by a fourth Plenary session on Neuroscience and Society: Future Directions in Europe led by Steven Rose, Open University and Alain Ehrenburg. Overall, it looks to be a fantastic gathering that has been sold out for the past several weeks. Can't wait!

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

November 2, 2007

NIO Unveils Top 10 Neuroscience Trends of 2007

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Topten.jpgThe Neurotechnology Industry Organization developed this “top ten” list of emerging areas of neuroscience that will impact the future of treatments for brain and nervous system in anticipation of cutting edge research being presented at The Society for Neuroscience Conference being held in San Diego, California, November 3-7. NIO will be hosting a booth (#4311) and neurotech industry partnering social at the conference. Stop by for a visit.

Top 10 Trends of 2007:
1. Advancing discovery tools underpin innovation: Beyond biochips and brain imaging, recent advances in neuroinformatics, image-based neural circuit analysis, and neural computation are accelerating the pace of neuroscientific discovery beyond what was imagined a decade ago.
2. Neuroimmunology leading to new treatment targets: The discovery that immune molecules play a crucial role in shaping neuronal connections opens up new treatment targets for Alzheimer’s, autism, ALS, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and nerve injury.
3. National Neurotechnology Initiative - Momentum for the new $200M/year federal R&D initiative aimed at accelerating translational neurotech innovation and improving the effectiveness of FDA review process for neuroscience drugs, devices and diagnostics grows.
4. Neurodevice interfaces improve prosthetics and treatments - Advanced brain-machine interfaces (BMI) enable the severely handicapped to independently compose e-mails and operate a TV in their homes. Other neurodevices provide functional stimulation for the treatment of pain, Parkinson’s, obesity, and psychiatric disorders.
5. Addiction advances: New research clarifies the role of drugs on sleep, cocaine’s potency, and the brain changes that occur due to abuse leading to new treatment strategies for this epidemic impacting over 1.1 billion worldwide.
6. Normal aging brain gets more attention: More research and development is being focused on thinking impairments that only partially limit independence and quality of life for senior citizens, adults and school aged children. Neurosoftware will penetrate nursing homes and schools, as brain fitness software becomes new first-line treatment strategy.
7. Regenerating the spinal cord: New experimental therapies in development could open the doors for research to improve treatments for people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, and other severe movement disorders
8. Prevention evidence grows: You are what you eat; smoking is as bad as we thought; and new studies reveal the effects of environmental substances on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others.
9. Emotional disorders research advances: New research continues to link neurogenesis to treatment of depression. A better understanding of PTSD should lead to new treatment regimes.
10. Neuroscience infiltrates society: From neuroeconomics to neuroesthetics to neuroethics and neurolaw, the influence of neuroscience on society continues to grow.

Advances across a wide spectrum of neuroscience research are making possible the development of more effective treatments for the nearly 100 million Americans and 2 billion people worldwide that currently suffer from brain-related illnesses.

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