Neurotechnology Ventures: New Course

Our brains have a lot of problems that need to be solved — now. And neurotechnology is a hot field. But what knowledge and skills do you study if you want to be a neurotechnologist? What problems are important, but also tractable within a reasonable timeframe? And, can you survive while climbing this possibly-very-high mountain?

A team of three academics at MIT and the University of Hong Kong is launching an international collaboration to create a set of novel courses to address this need. The first one, Neurotechnology Ventures, is being taught in Spring 2007 and focuses on neurotechnologies that are close to solving major human problems. The class explores the problems that neurotechnologists encounter when envisioning, planning, and building startups to bring neuroengineering innovations to the world.

Emphasizing the global nature of any modern neurotechnology, Neurotechnology Ventures will be videoconferenced between the U.S. and China, which is increasingly becoming a major neurotechnology player (including some very daring and scientifically interesting developments in fields such as human spinal cord regenerative medicine). Information will be posted online as the class evolves dynamically, to the web site HTTP:// The goal is to open up this new field to the world, and see if we can solve the major problems of the brain in an open and efficient way.


Brain stimulation and depression?

Brain stimulation and depression has been one of the hot topics of the last decade. Now, a Washington Post story suggests that at least some of this may be overrated, at least for the NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) device from Neuronetics:
A novel machine designed to treat depression by zapping the brain with magnetic pulses shows no clear evidence of working, federal health advisers concluded Friday.

The device is called the Neurostar TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, system. It uses magnetic energy to induce electrical currents in the region of the brain associated with mood…

A clinical trial of the device provided results that, in one analysis, suggested it’s no better than sham treatment, according to FDA documents.”

Going to be a long slog. TMS *has* been approved for treating depression in Canada and Israel, for the company NeoPulse.

Call for Articles for: Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence

Nature has always been a source of inspiration for science problem solving….Both the techniques based in cell or natural organisms performance, as well as those based on evolutionary theories, have a wide success record when applied to real problems…. we are in the process of editing the “Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence ” that will provide comprehensive coverage and definitions of the most important issues, concepts, trends and technologies in Artificial Intelligence.

Wireless MEAs in development

This paper describes some stuff that UCLA is doing with their neuroengineering program. Of particular interest is an ongoing project to develop networks of miniature wireless computers (“motes”) to support wireless MEA recording and stimulation (within section B, ” Improving Headstages for BCI Systems”).

The system is being built with Mica nodes, which are mesh-networking sensor motes about the size of a U.S. quarter, but I’m not sure if they are using mesh networking in this project. More details here.

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Mindball EEG game

Riken tournament video

You win by producing alpha waves. Unfortunately, a Mindball set is a little expensive. Perhaps OpenEEG is the way to go? Here‘s another build-your-own-EEG guide. Google also finds various people’s experiences trying to build their own EEGs according to these guides. Are there any other build-your-own EEG guides out there? Post a comment and let us know.

Also, I hope that all the homemade EEG folks know about OpenStim, and vice versa.

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Postdoctoral position in Drosophila neuroscience and behavior at Janelia Farm

Two postdoctoral positions are available in my laboratory ( at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute ( The work in the lab draws upon experimental and theoretical approaches to investigate the processing of multisensory information in the flight control system of Drosophila. We use tethered-flight experiments in a variety of virtual-reality flight simulators to quantify motor responses to controlled multisensory stimuli; models of these behaviors are used to constrain the computational properties of the supporting neural architecture.

The postdoctoral researchers will be involved in designing and conducting quantitative behavior experiments. The work will include a significant component of data analysis, which will require a creative application of a variety of techniques. Over the course of the appointment, the project will proceed to an investigation of the neuronal circuits controlling identified multisensory processing using molecular-genetic tools and imaging.

Candidates for the first position should have a strong background in biology, with a focus on Drosophila genetics, electrophysiology, biological imaging, and/or quantitative behavior. The second position will emphasize computational approaches and the design of laboratory instrumentation. Those with a technical background in Engineering/Physics/Mathematics and a keen interest in Neuroscience are especially encouraged to apply. A strong applicant should have some experience in several of the following areas: signal processing, control theory, machine learning, computer vision, embedded system design, laboratory instrumentation, and/or scientific computer programming (especially MATLAB experience).

Applicants should have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience/Biology/Engineering or a related field. Interested applicants should contact me by email. Please include your curriculum vitae and a letter of research interests, and arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to:

Michael Reiser
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Janelia Farm Research Campus
19700 Helix Drive
Ashburn, VA 20147
Email: reiserm at janelia dot hhmi dot org