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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March 30, 2009

National Neurotechnology Initiative in NYTimes today

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Posted by Zack Lynch

NYTimes.pngSlowly but surely, the word about the beneficial effects that the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act would have on our ability to accelerate the development of treatments for the brain and nervous system is slowly seeping into the national consciousness as evidenced by the today's Op-ed mention by Michael Paul Mason in his piece Keeping Our Head.

"THE death of the actress Natasha Richardson after a fall on a ski slope has further publicized an ugly truth that millions of Americans already know: Hardly anyone outside of an emergency room knows how to respond to brain trauma. There isn’t a standard response system that has been adequately promulgated in high school or college athletics, boxing rings or ski resorts. We’re fascinated by the inner workings of the brain and marvel at its mysteries, yet we aren’t very serious about protecting our most prized organ.

"The best hope for legislative reform comes from the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, introduced last year, which calls for $200 million toward “science and technology that allows an individual to analyze, understand, treat and heal the brain and nervous system.”

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

March 23, 2009

Brain Imaging Study Highlights Way to Predict Choice

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Posted by Zack Lynch

levittBiolPsych04.pngA cool new study in The Journal Neuroscience shows that the activity in the caudate nucleus can predict a person's preferences. The study showed that after a decision is made, activity in the caudate nucleus increases for the selected option and decreases for the rejected one.

The researchers imaged people's brains as they imagined vacationing in 80 different destinations around the world. After rating how much they would like to travel to each location, participants were asked to decide between similarly rated options — for example, Greece or Thailand. Participants then imagined and rated each location again, and their brains were imaged a second time.

"Re-evaluating our options post-choice may serve an adaptive purpose by increasing an individual's commitment to the action taken. In the absence of a rapid update of value that concurs with choice, we are likely to second-guess our decisions and actions," said study author Tali Sharot, PhD, a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London.

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

March 18, 2009

National Neurotech Bill Introduced in Both House and Senate

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I've spent a few years on this...happy to see it moving forward in the 111th Congress.

400_National_Neurotechnology_Initiative_NNTI.gifNational Neurotechnology Initiative Act seeks to accelerate development of new treatments for brain and nervous system conditions

SAN FRANCISCO & WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12 - A team of prominent members of both houses of Congress introduced today the National Neurotechnology Initiative (NNTI) Act, a bill designed to foster new discoveries and accelerate the development of new and safer treatments for the one in three Americans living with a brain-related illness, injury or disease.

The sponsors of the NNTI Act, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI 1st) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 18th), have called upon Congress to reverse the growing economic burden generated by brain-related illness, which exceeds $1 trillion per year in the U.S. due to healthcare costs and lost income.

"The huge numbers speak for themselves: There are 100 million Americans suffering from a brain-related illness, with an enormous economic burden that continues to grow as the population ages," said Zack Lynch, Executive Director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization. "For a modest investment, Congress has the opportunity to streamline research efforts, accelerate the development of new treatments, promote innovation and job creation by small businesses and have a meaningful impact on the lives of those suffering from devastating diseases and injuries."

Designed to increase private investment and accelerate the development of treatments reaching the market, the NNTI employs targeted increases in funding to improve Federal research coordination and ease bottlenecks that inhibit the development of treatments for brain-related illnesses. The bill accomplishes these goals with less than 4 percent of the total Federal neuroscience research budget - $200 million - and reflects a more balanced disease-cost to research-dollars-expended ratio.

"While our ability to understand how the brain works grows each day, our ability to understand and repair brain illnesses remains limited," said Senator Murray. "For the millions of Americans that suffer from a brain related illness, and the thousands of Americans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD, a new federal commitment to research and treatment can't wait. This bill will place a premium on sharing the information researchers gain everyday and will support ongoing but underfunded programs at NIH."

"With so many Americans suffering from brain-related illnesses, it is crucial for us as a society to maximize our efforts and continue learning about the many facets of the brain, leading to a healthier life for all Americans," said Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

"This legislation will turn America into a nation where brain injuries and diseases are tackled through innovative technology, state of the art medical equipment and top notch neuroscientists. Together we can make this a reality," said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

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

March 5, 2009

New Neuroeconomics eJournal

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Posted by Zack Lynch


A new Economics Research Network (ERN) eJournal in Neuroeconomics has been launched. The editors include: Kevin A. McCabe, George Mason University - Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics, George Mason University and Michael C. Jensen, Harvard Business School, The Monitor Company, Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc.

Description: Economic outcomes are the product of many individual decisions, constrained by scarcity, and equilibrium forces that simultaneously shape a person's social networks and the institutionally defined rules of the game. Decisions are made by computations in the brain which produce action-choices that directly affect the homeostatic wellbeing of the individual and choices that indirectly change wellbeing by changing an individual's future constraints, the scope of their social networks, and their message sending rights within the institutions they participate. Neuroeconomics broadly speaking is interested in the study of these computations and the resulting choices they produce. This includes experiments that attempt to understand the mechanisms of neuronal computations that produce action-choices, theories which predict how neuronal computations in socio-economic environments produce decisions, outcomes and wellbeing, and policy which use our understanding of neuoroeconomic behavior to either build or defend better solutions to societal problems.

Hat tip to Vint.

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