Register for the 2017 Summit
Columbus, Hilton Downtown
Columbus, Hilton Downtown
In May 2016, more than 200 physicians, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs gathered in Columbus to discuss the latest findings in neuroscience, neurophysiology, and neurotechnology and how this research is having tangible impacts in a variety of ways including virtual reality, gaming, simulation, wearable sensors, assessment methods and a wide variety of new applications.
The power of the brain to interface with technology is making it possible for people severely challenged by injury or disease to function more independently and accomplish feats they thought were impossible. This human and machine teamwork has allowed quadriplegic racecar driver Sam Schmidt to control his car with head movements that are converted into computer code. And Ian Burkhart, whose paralyzing spinal injury prevents him from performing many tasks of daily living, is now able to hold a phone to his ear and pour from a bottle thanks to a microchip embedded in his brain and connected to electrodes that stimulate his arm muscles. Researchers are working to make these and similar life-changing technologies more portable and wireless, as well as developing closed-loop systems that interface more seamlessly with individual users.
“Sleep is non-negotiable,” says Arianna Huffington, President of the Huffington Post Media group. Discussing her book The Sleep Revolution, she cites scientific findings that sleep rejuvenates our bodies and brains and is a performance enhancer in all areas of our lives. Getting enough sleep improves our cognitive abilities, decision-making, judgment, creativity and resilience. And despite our societal belief that we should be available 24-7, making sleep a priority is the best path to productivity. Huffington asserts, “Your lives are too interesting to not be incomplete at the end of the day.”
Research conducted using the Sense-Assess-Augment framework is supporting the training and operations of the most elite members of our United States armed forces. For example, researchers are able to assess stress levels in Special Operations forces using tools to measure brain function in a variety of real or simulated military situations. Their findings have the potential to not only enhance individual and team task performance, but to identify and help military personnel who are struggling with the effects of living and working in chronic high-pressure environments.
Neuroscientific discoveries in personalized physiological computer modeling, targeted brain stimulation and biomarker sensor technology are providing highly sophisticated data about our bodies and brains. “Virtual brain” technology also helps researchers study brain activity, and in addition engages the public in neuroscientific topics. Practitioners can use information from these technologies to make decisions about the best treatment options, and researchers are able to measure and evaluate brain activity and possible neuromodulation in previously unimagined ways.
In studies of optimal aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, science is showing that we have the potential to positively impact our brain function even in older age. Prioritizing good nutrition, aerobic exercise and regular social engagement seem to influence whether and when some individuals develop conditions associated with aging. And there is also evidence that we can develop a “cognitive reserve,” influenced by factors such as education, that may increase brain neuroplasticity and make us less susceptible to the effects of brain changes that can be signals of cognitive decline.
Brain researchers are harnessing space-age technologies to create personalized therapies and treatments. For example, avatar science is helping people deal with chronic pain. Video games that function as “body-brain trainers” stimulate neural networks to improve conditions such as ADHD, depression and autism. And virtual reality simulation creates immersive scenarios so military personnel can learn to manage stress in chaotic, war-like conditions. These rapidly evolving, engaging technological tools are also enhancing knowledge of healthy brain performance.
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