This is Your Brain on Neurotechnology

August 26, 2009 at 7:58 pm (mad science, mutate) (, , , )

An Interview with Zack Lynch, author of The Neuro Revolution

Colorful brain

Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin’s Press, July 2009). Neurotechnology is the emerging science of brain imaging and other new tools for both understanding and influencing our brains.

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=This well-received and well-written book was conceived as a work of popular science “to broaden the conversation” on what Lynch characterizes as the coming neurosociety. Lynch looks at how neurotechnology will impact the financial markets, law enforcement, politics, advertising and marketing, artistic expression, warfare, and even the nature of human spirituality.

The book has received accolades in the mainstream press (including Jane Pauly, at NBC) and from tech figures like Vint Cerf at Google.

Lynch 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.

He earned an M.A in economic geography, and a double B.S. in evolutionary biology and environmental science with high honors from UCLA. His master’s thesis examined how the Internet transforms communications and commerce.

You can follow Zack on Twitter at @neurorev

h+: You characterize the Neuro Revolution as the next revolution after the agricultural, industrial, and information revolutions. Others have characterized the Nanotechnology Revolution (for example, the ability to assemble goods at the molecular level) as such a paradigm-shattering period. Do you see a relationship between these two upcoming “revolutions?”

ZACK LYNCH: Nanotechnology is an enabling technology that will fundamentally drive progress in the neurotech sector. What makes this fundamentally unique, and why the neurotechnology revolution is so profoundly important, is that we are directing our informational and nano technologies at an entirely new domain of human progress: tools for the human mind.

We’ve spent human history — the past several thousand years as I said in the book — developing tools to improve our physical world. Now we are focused on developing tools that will take our wisdom, knowledge, and capital to develop tools that will improve our inner domain. Nanotechnology will be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of drugs, devices, diagnostics, and brain imaging technologies.

h+: You describe a number of emerging neurotechnologies in your book, fMRI being somewhat the granddaddy of the Neuro Revolution. Where should the smart investor be watching for the next fMRI?

ZL: Physics and biochemistry labs. The latest trend in imaging is combined systems –- fMRI and a whole host of other imaging technologies. One of the issues with fMRI is that it’s not very good at temporal resolution. What we’re trying to do is marry multiple types of imaging technologies to get more refined spatial and temporal resolution in our imaging systems. GE, Philips, and Siemens are developing these combined systems.

h+: Neurotechnology seems like it’s an emerging market.

ZL: It’s actually a relatively mature market if you consider first generation neurotechnologies. Last year, companies involved in neurotechnology generated about 140 billion dollars in revenue. This includes drugs, medical and neurological devices, and diagnostics for neurological diseases, psychiatric illness, and nervous system injuries. One of the hallmark characteristics of each technological revolution is that when a technology is developed for one purpose — let’s say for the purpose of creating treatments for brain or nervous system illnesses — you then begin to see it in a wide variety of different endeavors far beyond it’s original intended use.

Who would have thought 10 years ago that we would be using imaging technologies to improve the effectiveness of marketing and advertising? Who would have thought that we would be on the cusp of developing truth detection technologies? Who would have thought that these technologies would be used to understand and perhaps help traders improve their profitability?

What we’re seeing across law enforcement, the arts, marketing, entertainment, and warfare is what is means to be human. These technologies are penetrating a wide variety of different endeavors across human society. That — in and of itself — highlights the fact that we are witnessing the very early stages of a Neuro Revolution.

Via: H+


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