Cosmopolitan Neuroethics: What it is and why we need it
17 July 2018, by Dr. James Giordano and Dr. John Shook
In this interview, James Giordano and John Shook discuss and explain the concept of cosmopolitan neuroethics: what it is, how we can apply it, and why it’s becoming increasingly important in our globalized world.
Jolt the Brain, Then Listen Closely
6 July 2018, by Megan Scudellari
If an electric current passes through the brain, does anyone hear it?
Earlier this year, researchers in the United Kingdom showed that stimulating the brain with mild direct currents helped people stop stuttering. Neurostimulation has also shown promise for treating conditions such as migraines, depression, and the physical effects of stroke.
Brains Improved by Graphene Are on the Horizon
By Dexter Johnson – 13 June 2018
While graphene has been tapped to deliver on everything from electronics to optoelectronics, it’s a bit harder to picture how it may offer a key tool for addressing neurological damage and disorders. But that’s exactly what researchers have been looking at lately because of the wonder material’s conductivity and transparency.
A Tiny Microscope Can Now Record a Mouse’s Brain in Real Time
By David Grossman – 7 May 2018
Using a tiny microscope outfitted with some special gear, scientists have built a tool that can track the millions of interactions among brain cells in a mouse’s head.
Hopefully one day, this technology could be applied to the human mind to help better understand conditions like autism and schizophrenia.
The Ethics of Experimenting with Human Brain Tissues
25 April 2018
Difficult questions will be raised as models of the human brain get closer to replicating its functions, explain Nita A. Farahany, Henry T. Greely and 15 colleagues.
If researchers could create brain tissue in the laboratory that might appear to have conscious experiences or subjective phenomenal states, would that tissue deserve any of the protections routinely given to human or animal research subjects?
This question might seem outlandish. Certainly, today’s experimental models are far from having such capabilities. But various models are now being developed to better understand the human brain, including miniaturized, simplified versions of brain tissue grown in a dish from stem cells — brain organoids1,2. And advances keep being made.
Adult Human Brains Don’t Grow New Neurons in Hippocampus
By Shawn Sorrells, Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, Mercedes Paredes – 12 March 2018
When our recent study met significant skepticism, we weren’t surprised. After all, we ourselves remained skeptical of what we were seeing throughout our investigation. But repeated and varied experiments convinced us our conclusions were correct: New brain cells don’t grow (or are extremely rare) in the adult human hippocampus, a region important for learning and memory. The birth of new neurons in human memory circuits, in other words, declines during childhood to undetectable levels in the adult.
Retraining the Brain’s Vision Center to Take Action
By Robert Sanders – 1 March 2018
Neuroscientists have demonstrated the astounding flexibility of the brain by training neurons that normally process input from the eyes to develop new skills, in this case, to control a computer-generated tone. “We arbitrarily hijacked small groups of neurons in the visual cortex and virtually re-routed their output to make them control a brain-machine interface, or BMI,” said Jose Carmena, senior author of a paper about the development that will appear March 1 in the journal Neuron.
Brain-Machine Interface Study Suggests How Brains Prepare for Action
By Nathan Collins – 16 February 2018
Somewhere right now in Pyeongchang, an Olympic skier is thinking through the twists and spins she’ll make in the aerial competition, a speed skater is visualizing how he’ll sneak past a competitor on the inside line, and a curler is imagining the perfect sweep. It’s called mental rehearsal, and psychologists and athletes alike know that it works: picturing ourselves going through routines, whether it’s figure skating or something more mundane, improves our chances of success.
Nanoparticles in Mice Brains Light Up, Trigger Memories
By Emily Waltz – 8 Feburary 2018
No optical fibers, no headgear, no implants: This is the new optogenetics, systems that enable scientists to control cell behavior using simple flashes of visible light. Researchers today reported that they had successfully manipulated deep brain cells in mice using a light-based tool without an invasive surgical procedure.
Microsoft Patents Mind Control for Your Technologies
By Lindsay Huber – 15 January 2018
Microsoft’s new patent gives users the ability to control apps with their minds. This month, Microsoft was granted a patent for a device that decodes electroencephalogram (EEG) readings to launch and operate compatible apps.
“Brain-on-a-Chip” Devices are Changing How We Study the Brain
By Abby Norman – 15 January 2018
Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have devised a new use for “brain-on-a-chip” technology: testing the effects of biological and chemical agents on the brain over time. This work is part of an ever-growing body of research dedicated to developing “brain-on-a-chip” technology in hopes that one day, it may eliminate the need for animal testing.
Ethical Questions Raised by Brain-Computer Interfaces
By Sasha Burwell and Eric Racine – 18 December 2017
A recent article published in BMC Medical Ethics explores the ethical aspects of brain-computer interfaces (BCI): an emerging technology where brain signals are directly translated to outputs with the help of machines. Here, two of the authors of the paper tell us more about the applications of BCI, its portrayal in the media, and some of the key ethical issues it raises.
Brain organoids get cancer, too, opening a new frontier in personalized medicine
By Sharon Begley – 1 December 2017
Photo by Amanda Linkous
In 30 years as an oncologist, Dr. Howard Fine estimates he has treated some 20,000 patients with glioblastomas, the most deadly form of brain cancer, “and almost all of them are dead.” Of the 100 new glioblastoma patients he saw last month, “five years from now, only three will be alive,” he said.
Inside the Race to Hack the Human Brain
By John H. Richardson – 16 November 2017
In an ordinary hospital room in Los Angeles, a young woman named Lauren Dickerson waits for her chance to make history.
She’s 25 years old, a teacher’s assistant in a middle school, with warm eyes and computer cables emerging like futuristic dreadlocks from the bandages wrapped around her head. Three days earlier, a neurosurgeon drilled 11 holes through her skull, slid 11 wires the size of spaghetti into her brain, and connected the wires to a bank of computers. Now she’s caged in by bed rails, with plastic tubes snaking up her arm and medical monitors tracking her vital signs.
Four Ethical Priorities for Neurotechnologies and AI
By Rafael Yuste, Sara Goering, et al – 8 November 2017
Consider the following scenario. A paralysed man participates in a clinical trial of a brain–computer interface (BCI). A computer connected to a chip in his brain is trained to interpret the neural activity resulting from his mental rehearsals of an action. The computer generates commands that move a robotic arm. One day, the man feels frustrated with the experimental team. Later, his robotic hand crushes a cup after taking it from one of the research assistants, and hurts the assistant. Apologizing for what he says must have been a malfunction of the device, he wonders whether his frustration with the team played a part.
This scenario is hypothetical. But it illustrates some of the challenges that society might be heading towards.
Congratulations to the Participants and the Winners at the IEEE Brain Data Bank Competition in Glasgow
October 31, 2017
Gene Editing in the Brain Gets a Major Upgrade
October 19, 2017
Genome editing technologies have revolutionized biomedical science, providing a fast and easy way to modify genes. However, the technique allowing scientists to carryout the most precise edits, doesn’t work in cells that are no longer dividing – which includes most neurons in the brain. This technology had limited use in brain research, until now. Research Fellow Jun Nishiyama, M.D., Ph.D., Research Scientist, Takayasu Mikuni, M.D., Ph.D., and Scientific Director, Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D. at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience have developed a new tool that, for the first time, allows precise genome editing in mature neurons, opening up vast new possibilities in neuroscience research.
Stanford Scientists Seek to Speak the Brain’s Language to Heal its Disease
By Nathan Collins – October 17, 2017
Since the 19th century at least, humans have wondered what could be accomplished by linking our brains – smart and flexible but prone to disease and disarray – directly to technology in all its cold, hard precision … the melding of brains and machines for treating disease and improving human health is now a reality. Brain-machine interfaces that connect computers and the nervous system can now restore rudimentary vision in people who have lost the ability to see, treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and prevent some epileptic seizures. But, the biggest challenge in each of those cases may not be the hardware that science-fiction writers once dwelled on. Instead, it’s trying to understand, on some level at least, what the brain is trying to tell us – and how to speak to it in return.
Facebook Thinks the Most Useful Digital Assistant is the One That Can Read Minds
By W. Harry Fortuna – October 9, 2017
Facebook wants digital assistants like Siri and Cortana to shut up already. People all over are asking Alexa to play them a song, Google Assistant to set a reminder, and surely someone has asked Bixby—Samsung’s new voice assistant—something, but it turns out that no one wants to PDA (personal digital assist) in public. The Facebook solution: give the assistant direct access to our minds.
How We Won Gold in the Cyborg Olympics’ Brain Race
By Serafeim Perdikis, Luca Tonin, and Jose Del R. Millan – August 30, 2017
In October 2016, inside a sold-out arena in Zurich, a man named Numa Poujouly steered his wheelchair up to the central podium. As the Swiss national anthem played, organizers of the world’s first cyborg Olympics hung a gold medal around Poujouly’s neck. The 30-year-old, who became paralyzed after a bicycle accident in his teens, had triumphed in the tournament’s most futuristic event: a video-game-like race in which the competitors controlled their speeding avatars with just their minds.
‘Your Brain on Art’ Conference to Explore the Physiological Side of Creativity
By Kathy Pretz – August 11, 2017
An imaginative mind generates ideas that can lead to breakthroughs, but the creative process is still a mystery. Investigating what happens in the brain during that process is a focus of the International Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging and Neuroscience of Art, Innovation, and Creativity. Known as the Your Brain on Art conference, the event is scheduled for 10 to 13 September in Valencia, Spain. IEEE Brain is one of the technical sponsors.
New Kinds of Brain Cells Revealed
August 10, 2017
Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular methods to try to identify groups of neurons with different functions. Salk Institute and University of California San Diego scientists have profiled chemical modifications of DNA molecules in individual neurons, giving the most detailed information yet on what makes one brain cell different from its neighbor. This is a critical step in beginning to identify how many types of neurons exist, which has eluded neuroscientists but could lead to a dramatically better understanding about brain development and dysfunction.
World’s Most Detailed Scan of Brain Internal Wiring Produced by Scientists at Cardiff University
July 3, 2017
Towards a High-Resolution, Implantable Neural Interface
DARPA – July 10, 2017
DARPA has awarded contracts to five research organizations and one company that will support the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program: Brown University; Columbia University; Fondation Voir et Entendre (The Seeing and Hearing Foundation); John B. Pierce Laboratory; Paradromics, Inc.; and the University of California, Berkeley. These organizations have formed teams to develop the fundamental research and component technologies required to pursue the NESD vision of a high-resolution neural interface and integrate them to create and demonstrate working systems able to support potential future therapies for sensory restoration. Four of the teams will focus on vision and two will focus on aspects of hearing and speech.
Images from the IEEE Brain Data Bank Challenge at St. Petersburg, Russia
June 26-27, 2017 – A BIG THANK YOU to our volunteers, sponsors, and participants at the first IEEE Brain Data Bank Challenge.
Study Finds Hackers Could Use Brainwaves to Steal Passwords
by Tiffany Westry Womack – June 29, 2017
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggest that brainwave-sensing headsets, also known as EEG or electroencephalograph headsets, need better security after a study reveals hackers could guess a user’s passwords by monitoring their brainwaves.
Helping or Hacking? Engineers and Ethicists Must Work Together on Brain-Computer Interface Technology
By Eran Klein and Katherine Pratt – June 13, 2017
The potential ability to determine individuals’ preferences and personal information using their own brain signals has spawned a number of difficult but pressing questions: Should we be able to keep our neural signals private? That is, should neural security be a human right? How do we adequately protect and store all the neural data being recorded for research, and soon for leisure? How do consumers know if any protective or anonymization measures are being made with their neural data?
IEEE Spectrum Special Report: Can We Copy the Brain?
This special issue of IEEE Spectrum contains infographics, videos, and articles on the brain and AI.
Researchers Grow Brain Cells on a Chip
by Emily Waltz – May 18, 2017
Every human thought starts with a signal traveling from one neuron to another in the brain. Yet we know relatively little about how these connections form. In an effort to watch that process unfold, Australian researchers engineered a nanowire scaffold on a semiconductor chip that enables brain cells to grow and form circuits.
In a Neuro-Techno Future, Human Rights Laws Will Need to be Revisited
By Matt Lam – April 26, 2017
New human rights laws to prepare for advances in neurotechnology that put the ‘freedom of the mind’ at risk have been proposed in the open access journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy. The authors of the study suggest four new human rights laws could emerge in the near future to protect against exploitation and loss of privacy: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity and the right to psychological continuity.
With Neuralink, Elon Musk Promises Human-to-Human Telepathy. Don’t Believe It.
by Antonio Regalado – April 22, 2017
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, by way of blogger and cartoonist Tim Urban, has revealed in a 36,400-word illustrated explainer the thinking behind his new company Neuralink and its mission to use brain implants to directly link human minds to computers. The problem with the post is that, despite its length, Musk does not reveal how he’s going to do it.
Facebook is building brain-computer interfaces for typing and skin-hearing
by Josh Constine – April 20, 2017
Today at F8, Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building a brain-computer interface that will let you type with just your mind without invasive implants. The team plans to use optical imaging to scan your brain a hundred times per second to detect you speaking silently in your head, and translate it into text.
A Paralyzed Man Was Able to Move His Arm With His Brain
March 28, 2017
Not long ago, Bill Kochevar ate some mashed potatoes — and when he did, the world turned over.
Read more at TIME Health
Elon Musk, His New Company, and Science
by Brian Ahier – March 28, 2017
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has founded a new company called Neuralink Corp. According to the Wall Street Journal Neuralink will be pursuing what Musk has previously called “neural lace” technology, which consists of implanting tiny brain electrodes that could one day upload and download our thoughts.
Humans Control Robots with Their Minds by Watching for Mistakes
By Matt Reynolds – March 6, 2017
Try again robot, you’re doing it wrong. A brain-computer interface lets people correct robots’ mistakes using the power of their thoughts. IEEE Brain Initiative’s Ricardo Chavarriaga weighed in on this story, with his thoughts on why error potentials make them a good choice for controlling a robot.
How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners
by Ed Yong – February 27, 2017
Five neuroscientists argue that fancy new technologies have led the field astray.
It’s a good time to be interested in the brain. Neuroscientists can now turn neurons on or off with just a flash of light, allowing them to manipulate the behavior of animals with exceptional precision…
ieeeCESocTV: Interview with Paul Sajda, IEEE Brain Initiative Chair, at ICCE-2017 in Las Vegas
March 3, 2017
Narisa Nan Chu, IEEE Consumer Electronics Society representative to IEEE Brain Initiative, interviews Paul Sajda, who gave a keynote talk at ICCE-2017.
Brain Scanners Allow Scientists to ‘Read Minds’ – Could They Enable a ‘Big Brother’ Future?
by Julia Gottwald and Barbara Sahakian – February 9, 2017
There is now a technology that enables us to “read the mind” with growing accuracy: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It measures brain activity indirectly by tracking changes in blood flow – making it possible for neuroscientists to observe the brain in action. How far can – and should – this research take us?
Special Issue: Advanced Technologies for Brain Research
Proceedings of the IEEE – January 2017
Guest Editors Metin Akay, Paul Sajda, Silvestro Micera, Jose M. Carmena
This special issue will serve to increase the public awareness and foster discussions on the multiple worldwide BRAIN initiatives, both within and outside the IEEE, providing an impetus for development of long-term cost-effective healthcare solutions. The topics presented across the 9 papers in this special issue will serve as scientific evidence for health and policy advocates of the value of neurotechnologies for improving the neurological and mental health and well-being of the general population.
New Brain Mapping Technique Reveals Circuitry of Parkinson’s Disease Tremors
by Tom Abate – January 26, 2017
If a piece of electronics isn’t working, troubleshooting the problem often involves probing the flow of electricity through the various components of the circuit to locate any faulty parts. Stanford bioengineer and neuroscientist Jin Hyung Lee, who studies Parkinson’s disease, has adapted that idea to diseases of the brain, creating a new way to turn on specific types of neurons in order to observe how this affects the whole brain.
Ed Boyton: A New Way to Study the Brain’s Invisible Secrets
Watch the video from TedSummit, filmed June 2016. Read More
IEEE BRAIN Hackathon: Towards Becoming the Cyborg You Always Wanted to Be
January 5, 2017
Listen as reporter, Margot Wohl, follows 16 teams from around the world as they create brain machine interface technologies of the future, during our inaugural IEEE Brain Hackathon event. Read More
Spotting Speedy Brain Activity
by Peter Reuell – December 20, 2016
Using ultra-fast MRI scans, a research team led by Laura Lewis, a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, was able to track rapid oscillations in brain activity that before would have gone undetected, a development that could open the door to understanding fast-occurring cognitive processes that once appeared off-limits to scientists.
Brain and Circuits Take the Focus at BioCAS2016
by Guoxing Wang and Timothy Constandinou – December 16, 2016
Brain-related electronic research has been a hot topic in BioCAS during the past years. With efforts augmented by the large brain research projects funding provided from major economies including the United States, Europe, Japan, and China, it is believed that brain-related research will be accelerated in coming decades. BioCAS2016 acknowledged this trend by arranging the technical programs with a special focus on “connecting the brain with microelectronic circuits,” and tutorials and keynotes were chosen with an emphasis on brain-related research. A first-time post-conference workshop, the Brain Circuits and Systems Workshop (BrainCAS), was dedicated to promoting the exchange of ideas between researchers across very different disciplines.
2016 IEEE Brain Initiative Budapest Hackathon
November 14, 2016
Mindtech Team competing in the brain hackathon at the SMC BMI Workshop in Budapest, Oct. 2016
Brain’s Support Cells Could Explain Mysterious “Spreading Pain”
by Diana Kwon – November 11, 2016
In people who suffer from pain disorders, painful feelings can severely worsen and spread to other regions of the body. Patients who develop chronic pain after surgery, for example, will often feel it coming from the area surrounding the initial injury and even in some parts of the body far from where it originates. New evidence suggests glia, non-neuronal cells in the brain, may be the culprits behind this effect.
Brain Implant Allows Man to Feel Touch on Robotic Hand
by Andrew Silver – October 13, 2016
At the end of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker feels when a needle pricks his newly-installed bionic hand. Researchers report today in the journal Science Translational Medicine that they can do something similar: stimulating regions of a human test subject’s brain with electrodes can recreate the perception of touch in a robotic hand.
Mind-Controlled Robo-Skeleton Enables Paraplegics to Regain Some Motion
by Bret Stetka – August 16, 2016
Patients paralyzed by a spinal cord injury can face a grim and grueling recovery process—one in which regaining function is far from a sure thing. But a new study published last week in Scientific Reports may provide some hope to those suffering from paraplegia. Scientific American MIND spoke with neuroprosthetic pioneer, founder of Duke University’s Center for Neuroengineering and lead study author Miguel A. L. Nicolelis about the findings and the field in general.
Google Brain Notes that AI ‘Humanist Thinking’ Can’t Be Achieved Without Diversity
by Kayleigh Bateman – August 15, 2016
Google Brain is a group at Google that focuses on ‘deep learning’, which involves a deep neutral network to leverage massive amounts of data to solve task. Jeff Dean, Head of Google Brain, fears that because computer labs only staff computer scientists, that a single world view could take shape from this bias. He believes that this could impede the development of news ways of thinking.
How Hackers Could Get Inside your Head With ‘Brain Malware’
by Victoria Turk – August 3, 2016
The idea of securing our thoughts is a real concern with the introduction of brain-computer interfaces. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle say that we need to act fast to implement a privacy and security framework to prevent our brain signals from being used against us before the technology really takes off.
New “Neural Dust” sensor could be implanted in the body
August 3, 2016
New Perspectives on Neuroengineering and Neurotechnologies: NSF-DFG Workshop Report
by C. Moritz, P. Ruther, S. Goering, A. Stett, T. Ball, W. Burgard, E. Chudler, and R. Rao – July 2016
Rapid advances in neuroscience, engineering, and computing are opening the door to radically new approaches to treating neurological and mental disorders and understanding brain function. These new approaches are based on the ability to record and stimulate neural activity with increasing precision. This precision is leading to the rapid expansion of neural interfaces, devices that interact with the nervous system to restore or enable sensory and/or motor function. This report focuses on a subset of neural interfaces termed brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) [also known as brain–machine interfaces (BMIs)].
Brain-to-Brain Interface—the Next Great Leap in Human Communication
By Philip Perry – June 16, 2016
100,000 viewers recently tuned in to see Mark Zuckerberg and Jerry Seinfeld chew the fat on the first ever Q&A session on Facebook Live. At one point, Zuckerberg reiterated that the future of the internet and consequently humanity, lie in technology that gives us telepathic powers. In his view, we would be able to record our own experiences in real time, and share thoughts and feelings directly with friends and loved ones. He called it the “future of communication.” So how close are we to brain-to-brain interfacing?
The Neuroweapons Threat
By James Giordano – May 31, 2016
Nearly two years ago, Juliano Pinto, a 29-year-old paraplegic man, kicked off the World Cup in Brazil with the help of a brain-interface machine that allowed his thoughts to control a robotic exoskeleton. Yet like most powerful scientific breakthroughs, neurotechnologies that allow brains to control machines—or machines to read or control brains—inevitably bring with them the threat of weaponization and misuse, a threat that existing UN conventions designed to limit biological and chemical weapons do not yet cover and which ethical discussions of these new technologies tend to give short shrift.
How are Words Organized in the Brain? Nature Video.
April 27, 2016
Watch the video below, then Learn More at the Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley
Mapping the Brain – Using Cellular Sized Neural Probes and Optics
March 28, 2016
Electrodes are a way to eavesdrop on neural activity and when combined with optogenetics, neural probes can stimulate the mind’s circuitry and gather further insight into the causes of blindness, deafness, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Ted Berger at the Brain Prosthetics Session at SXSW
March 17, 2016
Scientists can make copies of memories. Here’s what that might mean.
TED Talks: Uri Hasson: This is your brain on communication
Brain-Computer Interface Devices for Patients with Paralysis and Amputation: A Meeting Report
February 29, 2016
On 21 November, 2014, Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) held an open public workshop with the aim of fostering an open discussion on the scientific and clinical considerations associated with the development of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) devices for patients with paralysis and amputation…
How Engineers Could Help Unravel the Mysteries of the Brain
By Kathy Pretz – January 22, 2016
In December, I attended the first IEEE Brain Initiative workshop held at Columbia where I learned about current research as well as what IEEE’s societies and councils are doing in this area…
Paul Sajda: New IEEE Brain Initiative a No Brainer
November 19, 2015
As massive global efforts across government, academia, and industry deepen their focus on developing neurotechnology, and as these technologies become mature enough to be considered for commercialization and standardization, IEEE’s new Brain Initiative has arrived at a crucial time…
US Neuroscientists Call for Creation of ‘Brain Observatories’
October 15, 2015
What is the future of the BRAIN Initiative? This national White House Grand Challenge involving more than 100 laboratories in the United States has already made progress in establishing large-scale neuroscience goals and developing shared tools…
Brain-Computer Interface Technology and Development: The Emergence of Imprecise Brainwave Headsets in the Commercial World
By Narisa Chu – July 15, 2015
Brain-computer interface (BCI) headsets, which are injecting new break points in games and entertainment, deliver desirable special effects, aiding wellness training and rehabilitation…
How to Control Someone Else’s Arm with Your Brain – TED Talks
By Greg Gage – April 28, 2015