Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Alternative input paradigms

I'm being super productive today, so I'm allowing myself a few extra entries.

Earlier last year, during a meeting with one of my advisors, I mentioned that the push to use cortical implants to control a cursor worried me a little. Sure the brain is plastic, and that plasticity combined with the inherent coding properties of motor cortex should result in decent control of a 2D cursor, but it was still 'unnatural'. The people involved in many tried of BCI devices are adults - well beyond the so called 'critical period' (a controversial term, I know). My guiding philosophy is that the interfaces of tomorrow will appeal more and more to the distinct advantages of our biology. That is, future human-computer interaction will become more and more organic and complementary to uniquely human traits. This is why the need to create more able-bodied types of interfaces, like prosthetic limbs, is much more important. technology sure isn't going to be a sitting target, and we need to anticipate the direction of its enhancement (no, I don't think a simple velocity filter will work here :) ).

So, what am I getting at. Last night, Microsoft announced "Surface". It is arguably the coolest thing I have seen in computer interfaces to this day (and remember I'm in the tech biz as well, so that should carry some weight!) One problem: Current cursor based navigation is nearly worthless. Sure, it won't replace the desktop PC anytime soon, but it is a sign of what is to come. Cursor navigation is extremely important, and a much easier target to hit than full limb control, don't get me wrong, but sometimes advances like Surface make me take a step back until the big picture is back in focus.

Enough pondering... Back to reading Fetz papers...

A few more papers...

Of course I post a list of papers the same day as J Neurosci is updated.

Involvement of the Basal Ganglia and Cerebellar Motor Pathways in the Preparation of Self-Initiated and Externally Triggered Movements in Humans
from Journal of Neuroscience current issue by Purzner, J., Paradiso, G. O., Cunic, D., Saint-Cyr, J. A., Hoque, T., Lozano, A. M., Lang, A. E., Moro, E., Hodaie, M., Mazzella, F., Chen, R.

Processing of Temporal Unpredictability in Human and Animal Amygdala
from Journal of Neuroscience current issue by Herry, C., Bach, D. R., Esposito, F., Di Salle, F., Perrig, W. J., Scheffler, K., Luthi, A., Seifritz, E.

Multisensory Integration Shortens Physiological Response Latencies
from Journal of Neuroscience current issue by Rowland, B. A., Quessy, S., Stanford, T. R., Stein, B. E.

New & Notable journal articles

Motor reorganization in multiple sclerosis.
Neurol Res. 2007 Jan;29(1):3-8
Authors: Wang J, Hier DB

Auditory feedback control for improvement of gait in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
J Neurol Sci. 2007 Mar 15;254(1-2):90-4
Authors: Baram Y, Miller A

Cortical reorganization consistent with spike timing-but not correlation-dependent plasticity.
Publication Date: 2007 May 27 PMID: 17529985Authors: Young, J. M. - Waleszczyk, W. J. - Wang, C. - Calford, M. B. - Dreher, B. - Obermayer, K.Journal: Nat Neurosci

The mirror neuron system is more active during complementary compared with imitative action.
Publication Date: 2007 May 27 PMID: 17529986Authors: Newman-Norlund, R. D. - van Schie, H. T. - van Zuijlen, A. M. - Bekkering, H.Journal: Nat Neurosci

Developing velocity sensitivity in a model neuron by local synaptic plasticity
from Biological Cybernetics
Journal IssueVolume 96, Number 5 / May,

Effects of spinal recurrent inhibition on motoneuron short-term synchronization
from Biological Cybernetics
Journal IssueVolume 96, Number 6 / June, 2007

Timing-dependent modulation of associative plasticity by general network excitability in the human motor cortex.
J Neurosci. 2007 Apr 4;27(14):3807-12
Authors: Nitsche MA, Roth A, Kuo MF, Fischer AK, Liebetanz D, Lang N, Tergau F, Paulus W

A neural circuit model of flexible sensorimotor mapping: learning and forgetting on multiple timescales.
Neuron. 2007 Apr 19;54(2):319-33
Authors: Fusi S, Asaad WF, Miller EK, Wang XJ

Effects of small ischemic lesions in the primary motor cortex on neurophysiological organization in ventral premotor cortex.
J Neurophysiol. 2006 Dec;96(6):3506-11
Authors: Dancause N, Barbay S, Frost SB, Zoubina EV, Plautz EJ, Mahnken JD, Nudo RJ

Neurophysiological and anatomical plasticity in the adult sensorimotor cortex.
Rev Neurosci. 2006;17(6):561-80
Authors: Dancause N

Oh, I got more. They'll be posted later.

Spinal column desk lamp

One of these things that's awesome to scientists & creepy to everyone else.

Robo-Cerebellum scoffs at Kalman Filters!

Dissing our educational system seemed to be oh so fashionable these days. But, when the University of Granada says they are developing a 'robotic cerebellum' to help people with Alzheimer's, I think we're doing just fine. (Okay, so they site Parkinson's, which still doesn't make sense, but is a little closer to the mark.)

The idea is interesting, though. The cerebellar cortex is the cytoarchitecturally the most well mapped out part of the brain, due to a very stereotyped pattern. Simulations of the cerebellum have been worked on for years (I remember making a crude model on a Purkinje cell in my Comp Neuro class back in 2000), and this seems like the next logical step. While ataxia is the most notable symptom of cerebellar damage, there are distinct cognitive deficits as well. Whether these are due to the influence of cerebellum on other parts of the brain, or appears as an epiphenomenon (I can't coordinate my reaching for objects, which makes me depressed and irritable) has yet to be completely worked out.

Current self balancing robots, like the Segway and less well-known smaller projects like nBot, implement a Kalman filter to remain balanced and avoid tipping over. While the benefit of an artificial cerebellum in humans is self-evident (the cerebellum is one of the most likely places for a stroke to occur), the application in pure robotics is dubious. Might make for a nice smart-prosthetics add-on, though.
From Medgadget.

Site notes (again)

It has come to my attention that some of my posts may be misinterpreted as insensitive, so I thought I would nip this in the bud, as I expected the topic to come up at some point. This blog is intended to cover advances in neurotechnology in a somewhat whimsical, but informative manner (see my previous post on tone). The people in need of this technology are in desperate situations, and their emotional concerns should be noted. However, I refuse to let every post be guided by political correctness. I used the term cyborg. That's bad, I suppose. But what about the journal Biological Cybernetics? And Steven Colbert's use of the words 'rocket shins' to describe the athletes with prosthetic legs? I know I'm no Colbert, but there has to be some informal terminology when discussing the topic. I would never be overtly distasteful or insulting, though I suppose the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Second, as I mention in the first post here, this is a personal blog. Of a grad student. In a lab. Who works with people. Each of those elements will probably work its way into posts, but in the end, this is all my opinion. I will probably add some sort of disclaimer to the bottom of the site, just in case. I most likely won't get into topics like gun control (cited by The Retrospectacle), homosexual blood donation boycotts (cited by Medgadget), or 'teledildonics' (NOT SAFE FOR WORK/LAB (you have been warned!) cited by Gizmodo). Actually, no, I'm sure I won't be getting into any of those topics, but that doesn't mean that everything I post will be controversy-free. Consider it selective pressure - no controversy equals no evolution.

Alright, no more posts about posting for a while. I promise!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The playing field

I'm just noticing that there are several other similar blogs (similar but not the same), but that they tend to update 1-2x's per week. I'm still trying to sort out how to keep this going once the novelty wears off (time commitment, momentum, tone, etc), so yet another thing to consider. The biggest problem of blogs nowadays, as I see it (and I know me some web tech market stuff) is distinguishing yourself.

I predicted this when I got into podcasting for Digital Trends. When I started, the big craze was just little "about me" snippets. I said to myself, "Me, once people realize that they have their own life to live, and, really, other people's lives get as boring to you as your own, they will be looking for content." Sure enough, that's where it all went - topical conversations.

No matter how topic driven, and this goes for any media, part of the lure of a particular show is the personality. So, I'm still struggling with the tone of this blog. Do I go for a Gizmodoian light hearted, brief summary tone, or a Neurophilosopherian in depth exploration or topics? Personally, I like The Retrospectacle's tone, which is what I'm hoping to build myself up to. The perfect blend of personal and technical, IMO. Though, I tend to be more goofy, so that will hopefully shine through.

Welcome to my internal dialogue, I guess. I haven't actually tried to promote The Blog much, as I feel like I'm still working out the bugs. Why not just start throwing it out there and adjusting based on feedback? Easy. I'm a little fish in a big sea. There are many, many, many options, and people tend to go with first impressions when presented with that many options. So, I want things to be more finely polished and a decent archive going. I don't want to be that site where people say, "Hrm, that's interesting, but I'll wait until it has more substance before I actually start watching it."

My goal right now is to have this place ready for promotion before the first semester of the next academic year (so I won't be embarrassed when my undergrads refer people to it). I don't want them saying, "Go visit my TA's site. We feel sorry for him. i think he had some sort of major head trauma when he was a child."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

OMG! Does the news ever END!?!?! Maybe I'm in over my head! Nice to know implanting a cuff electrode on the vagus nerve is "at least as effective" as taking a pill.

I might be spreading myself a little thin and getting into any brain-technology topics. But, Hell with it, I'll see if I can carry the load.

Quick bits

Alright the real last TMS item. Neuralieve unit pictured below. Apparently 10 companies are now making home TMS system. More info here.

Hitachi is working on an optical topography unit, which detects local changes to cerebral blood flow. Kind of like an optical MRI. *ducks as MRI researcher throw rotten produce* Basically, the reflection and refraction of light shined through the scalp is altered by the change in need for oxygen and glucose of an active brain. It has to be cool - look at how old school this photo is!

Hot on the tail of my sleep obsession

Of course the day after I post about the homes TMS system for sleep, it looks like TMS might increase stem cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Shazzam!

NBC goes BCI

Bionic woman remake? Espionage secrets uploaded into his brain? Oh lord. Be aware. The next round of ridiculous questions and comparisons will be thanks to NBC.

Implication of the Humans Service Pack 1

This isn't related to MIT's Human 2.0, so I didn't want to use that in the title. :)

Slashdot has a little forum banter on whether we are ready for technology augmentation at a social level. While slim on any tech content, I find exchanges like this useful for examining other people's reactions to current developments. I mean, I know how I feel about brain chips, etc - I think they're unquestionably awesome - but how do non-science, non-academia people across all age ranges feel? Don't be so smug! You'd be surprised by some of the responses!

Whisper: Cochlear implant inventor honored

From the University of Melbourne:
University of Melbourne scientist Professor Graeme Clark has received the 2007 Klaus Joachim Zulch prize for his research into neuroscience and the Cochlear implant, giving hearing to deaf people.

Catching up on old-ish news

Over the next day I'll be catching up on stories that slipped by me as I was setting this blog up. For tonight here are a few...
Our lab/CKI were mentioned in the media lately for our multiple papers are the recent IEEE conference in Hawaii. When our 'troops' returned for our usually Friday meeting, we asked how the meeting went. They started into how the weather was great and they went to the beach and played golf, but didn't realize we were asking how their presentations went. Ah, I tried to offer myself up to "fall on this grenade" but, alas, no data = no hula girls. From RedOrbit:

Three presentations on Saturday, May 5, 2007, by engineers from the Company and collaborators at Brown University highlighted advances in Cyberkinetics' BrainGate Neural Interface System included:

"Multi-State Decoding of Point-and-Click Control Signals from Motor Cortical Activity in a Human with tetraplegia." Authors include Sung-Phil Kim; John Simeral; Leigh Hochberg (VA/Harvard Medical School); John Donoghue; Gerhard Friehs; and Michael J. Black. All authors are affiliated with Brown University. This presentation described the development of "point and click" computer cursor control, which would be necessary to control medical and other devices, including wheelchairs; "Decoding Grasp Aperture from Motor-Cortical Population Activity." Authors include Panagiotis Artemiadis of the National Technical University of Athens; as well as Gregory Shakhnarovich; Carlos Vargas-Irwin; John Donoghue; and Michael J. Black, all of Brown University. This presentation described decoding neural activity to achieve "continuous motion", which would be important in the ability to provide more natural control of a person's own arm and hand movement, as well as prosthetic limbs; and "Automatic Spike Sorting for Real-Time Applications." Authors are Daniel Sebald, a consultant to Cyberkinetics, and Almut Branner, of Cyberkinetics. This presentation described automatic sorting of brain signals, which significantly reduces the time between a person's thought about movement and the ability to put the thought into action, which is aimed at providing "real-time" performance.

I am posting at 3am right now, which means I could really use a device that would just put me to sleep with the press of the button. Hrm, where could I find one of those? Oh, here!

Interestingly, is basically forces subcortical structures to into a delta oscillation using TMS and you just fall asleep. There is a series of rhythm changes they refer to as Sleep on Command, and a beta oscillation mode to aid student in studying. My lord. I could be the Ultimate Grad Student! Imagine a grad student that never slept! PIs around the world begin drooling. From

The sequenced frequency system called Sleep on Command™ was first released to the public in May 2005 and provides clients with an extraordinary sleep experience. The Sleep on Command™ trademark was filed in early 2006. An Alert Mode (low Beta wave) program was added in 2006 to aid students in studying, and to aid drivers in maintaining alertness and reducing physical and mental fatigue on long trips. It works equally well in desk job

The device costs $500 and can be purchased directly from the company website (with a 1-year warranty). I think I might order one. *counting pennies* Actually, this is the gimmicky device version which you put under your mattress - so it doesn't penetrate your skull. And here I thought I had found a sleep on/off switch. *sigh*

Monday, May 21, 2007


No matter how interesting the topic is, my attention wavers during these all-day meetings. I'm probably going to regret not sitting on the edge of my seat, anticipating every word. There are some powerhouses within feet of me. John Donoghue, Michael Black, Bob Kirsch, Dawn Taylor, Hunter Peckhem, and, well, everyone here is damn impressive. That means I better get working!

LGN visual prosthesis

Just a quick note while I take a break from our day long project meeting (I've signed enough papers that I would think twice before posting anything from here!). A nice little article in Technology Review on visual prosthesis can be found here.

There are some issues I could see with LGN based recording systems from just looking at it. First, you're limited to the number of electrodes you insert because you have a huge distance to travel. Second, implanting in humans will be a much more risky operation than current cortical techniques. Third, explant and damage to the brain could be significant. Fourth, the electrodes would become more encapsulated (gliosis, etc) due to a larger surface area, which equals greater irritation. Still, interesting to think about. Oh, and most of the projections to the LGN are from V1, so you would have to be pretty keen at sorting out what units are being driven by.

Dean Kamen arm update

About two-three months ago, footage leaked of the prosthetic arm that Segway creator Dean Kamen was designing. It was shaky cameraphone footage without any audio. Well, looky here! We got some annotation from the man himself. Key bits:
- skin designed that looks as good natural skin
- the arm weighs 9 lbs
- fits into the 50% range for female body frames (50% of females have arms this size - I assume the structure can be expanded for men)
- 14 degrees of freedom
- titanium
- demoed with an exoskeleton control, ultimate goal is to provide haptic feedback as well.

I am particularly impressed by the fluidity of the movements, like when he begins to reach for the pad of paper.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The power of a single breath

Interesting project on Make. Strap this device around your chest, and power a USB device. It uses the expansion and contraction of the chest to drive a generator, converting the mechanical energy into electrical. I could easily see an implantable device like this powering or assisting in powering future implants. Current research is focused on using induction charging, biothermal sequestering, and biomechanical energy from things like walking (in the able bodied).

Even more importantly, and this is something extremely interesting to think about, could we build a power source that mimics automotive hybrids. For instance, a set of stimulating electrodes move a muscle. The small amount of electricity needed to jolt the muscle is recovered, and then some, by a biomechanical generator. Additional charge is provided by the force of gravity pulling the arm back down. In other words, does the energy needed to stimulate the muscles dwarf that generated by their movement? If so, we got us some awesome potential!

AI versus AI

This has been linked to all over the news lately, but thought I would post it up here as well.

Two AI chatbots chatting.

Sixth Sense Gone

A while back, Wired reported on a few people that were getting magnets implanted under their fingertips. Apparently these people could sense live wires, ringing cells phones, and other electrical phenomenon due to transient magnetic fields emitted from the active devices. Well, it looks like implanting random items in your body without medical knowledge isn't a good idea. This lady had one which fractured and fragmented, causing infection. Nothing a little coating of selastic wouldn't help prevent - I was astonished that they didn't coat them with some material acceptable for implant to begin with - but it looks like the experiment is over for this person. Here's a link to her LiveJournal entry.

Quick link

Before I forget, I thought I would post a link to Stelarc. It appears he has added an ear to his arm. Yes, for real. What I think is more interesting is the Third Arm piece. It uses EMG sensors on his abdomen to control a robotic arm. More here.

Colbert Nation tackles prosthetics

If you caught The Colbert Report for today (technically yesterday), you noticed that the opening blurb mentioned the issues of Oscar Pistorius. Oscar's legs were amputated when he was a one year old. Now he has, what Colbert refers to as, 'rocket shins'. Sure he turned it into a political thing, but the issue is real. The Olympic track committee is trying to block Pistorius from running, claiming that his 'legs' are performance enhancing.

So, where do we draw the line? As of right now, in order to compete, competing athletes require all the best science to train - every muscle twitch is recorded, every movement analyzed by a team of biophysicists. Meals are planned years in advance, measurements are taken daily, supplements are mixed to the border of doping. Is this even a test of physical human limits anymore? Does anyone outside the respective committees even care? Do we need an Enhanced Olympics? There was a similar uproar in baseball when Charles Waitt wore a sissy device called 'a glove' to help prevent bruising and breaking his hand. And that wasn't even out of necessity.
(If I can find a YouTube of "The Word" segment (the word was "Level Playing Field"), I will post it.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Amputees can now flip you the bird, sans finger!

One interesting aspect of BCI is the interaction between patient needs and scientific needs. There's always a tightrope to be walked when trying to enable a person to regain function - do you go for the surefire ability to restore apparently better solution, or the one that leads to greater scientific validity, which may give much greater returns, though further in the future? For casual BCI observers, the choice is usually pretty straightforward: do what will benefit the greatest number of people int he long run. But, sitting at a person's bedside and trying to express this importance is futile. No one wants to feel like they're being thrown under the train to save a nameless, faceless population. Martyrdom might work in a few moments of decision, but it rarely lasts long. Add to that the self-coercion that must occur should one decide to change their mind - if I back out now, I'm harming so many people - and the complications become staggering to any bioethicist.

Let's throw another monkey wrench into the whole setup. The best compromise would be to have experimental sessions in which alternative forms of communication are used - implants, EEG, etc. During 'normal business hours' patients are free to use whatever device they find most effective. Sounds great, huh? One word, and all the neuroscientists will cringe: plasticity. A) Is the new device being used long enough to induce long term changes in an optimal manner? That is, are they able to practice enough to really make the new device usable? B) Is the return to their 'comfortable device' washing out the effects of learning, or in some way altering it? This is particularly important as devices receive finer and finer signals. We'd expect less impact on EEG than individual action potentials. C) Is it better to use similar tasks, like spelling on an grid style keyboard, or radically different ones, like spelling versus drawing/tracing?

Anyhow, I'm sure someone can make a thesis out of that little bit, so you're welcome! This was sparked by a new artificial finger for amputees which is controlled by surrounding fingers, which provides 'life-like' articulation. He's a link to the MedGadget blog where more info, including videos can be found. Oh, and it's called the XFinger, because it is obviously 'X-treme'!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dork smash!

Though there are several groups working on bionic exoskeletons, you have to admit that the quasi-flames and the fact that the user can now lift an astonishing 7 lbs make this one 'special'. Still funky, though.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Our mission

Well, it looks like the first major hurdle of BCI has been overcome...

Friday, May 11, 2007


What's better than plain old neurotechnology? Why, adding another prefix, of course! A Northwestern University scientist, Dr. Samuel Stupp, is, according to nanotech people, one of the most influential minds behind self assembling nanofibers, and he is bringing that knowledge to the field of spinal regeneration. While the article is scant on details, it looks like Dr. Stupp is proposing that nanofibers can coax polysaccharides in the extracellular matrix of either damaged neurons or blockading astrocytes to channel bisected fibers through areas that would normally become scar tissue. He then goes on the extrapolate that to bone and teeth, as well as organs.

To BCIers, this is good news. Imagine being able to target specific cells to grow to specific electrodes in an array. It opens many of the options used by Dr. Phil Kennedy up to a level of extremely high precision, as regenerative/reorganizing processing can be harnessed to create the most efficient connections. Make the brain play by our rules, I say!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Ultimate Idiot Filter Fails

Non-BCI, but odd. hey, I made it through one post and stayed on topic. I'm only human!

During my parents' time, college was a great idiot filter. If you made it through your run-of-the-mill undergraduate education, or, Hell, even got an Associates degree, you were pretty much assumed to be respectably smart. Then there was a glut of institutions and financial aid, a confusing landscape of prep schools, junior colleges, accredited/non-accredited schools and so on. So, now, my friends, what is the ultimate idiot filter? Many would say the Nobel Prize. I mean, come on. You have to be smart, to get that, right? Smart, perhaps, but sane, not necessarily!

A Nobel Laureate in Physics has, in an exclusive study released only to a web 'news' site, claimed that he has conclusive proof that people can sense the future. Yes, in this piece (piece of whaaat?), we hear about how the planes on 9/11 weren't full, and people that knew pilots of other crashed planes had foreboding feelings prior to the event. He (not even gonna bother with a name here) claims that we receive feelings from the future. How this could possibly be turned down by Nature or Science is beyond me!

While this is near total quackery (it would negate the idea of free will, as everyone would always operate in a manner that benefits themselves most - we'd never lose a poker hand), we do know that the brain is constantly operating based on probability calculations (probably). In order to interact with the physical world in real time, we have to project the most likely configuration of the world at some future point.

Say you want to catch a baseball. The ball is flying through the air at you... but how do you know? Light hits the retina, photoreceptors respond, bipolar cells modulate their glutamate output, ganglion cells fire (not to mention all the lateral crosstalk), action potentials travel through the optic nerve/tract, synapse at the LGN, then back to V1 and branch into the dorsal and ventral streams, where more information is gleamed on the visual scenery. The information is then integrated with intrinsic models of the body to create a motor program that correctly intercepts the ball, taking into account the velocity and acceleration profiles of the arm. But that is all going on while the ball is still moving toward your head. The information is already useless by the time you need to react.

Some have suggested that the native language of the neuron is Bayesian probability, and there's plenty to suggest that is the case. But, foreboding feelings about a loved one flying a tank of highly combustible liquid at mach speeds doesn't sound like solid evidence for future-sight to me. Repeat after me: The plural of anecdote is not data!

All that being said, suspend disbelief and tune in to Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell or George Noorey for more fun lunacy. They're on from 1am-5am EST, and syndicated all over the world. Everything from Chupacabra to Shadow People. You thought people were nuts? listen to hear just how nuts during open lines.

May the Farce be with You!

Picked up from Yahoo! News, and here, there is a company called NeuroSky in Silicon Valley, which aims to bring 'force-like' jedi powers to gamers. Just strap on the a single, dry electrode and voila! Awesome neural control! Strangely enough, the pictures on the website place the electrode right on the forehead. Let's see - when I concentrate, I tend to squint or furrow my brow. That contracts my occipitofrontalis muscle, right below the electrode, and results in a signal roughly 1000x's the strength of the EEG, and across all frequencies used by EEG. At the same time, I might clench my jaw, which would activate about 4 other large facial muscle groups.
Call me skeptical, but a single high impedance surface electrode ain't gonna tell you too much. Now, using the EMG signal isn't too bad of an idea if it still gives you some idea of the facial expression, but I doubt the product would have the same allure.

It's 7am...

I've had no sleep for a couple days...
MatLab in crunching away and stealing application focus on monitor 2...
I've had 4 shots of espresso in the last hour...
SfN abstracts are due in less than 36 hours...

... and I decide to start a blog. Sure, what's one more commitment?

Welcome to my neuroscience and Brain Computer Interface (BCI)/Brain Machine Interface (BMI)/Neuroprosthetics/Rehabilitative Neural Engineering/Doo-Dads In your Brain blog. Over the past couple months I've been gathering new information in the BCI field on an almost daily basis, and thought this might a) help me organize that information and b) provide others with some entertainment plus a venue to discuss ideas related to BCI.

Don't let my informal language deter you. I assure you, I am as sharp as a bowling ball. This is my generally preferred whimsical tone, and if you crave the stuffy ultra-precision of a 24/7 nose to the grindstone scientist, well, I won't be offended if you trek off mid-article to bask in the cold dehumanizing comfort of the Neural Computation journal. Not all the posts will be this informal, but be aware that some will.

Feel free to check out my bio, as soon as I figure out where that is myself (I've had a GMail account for all of 10 minutes now). The basics? I am a second year grad student in the lab of John Donoghue at Brown University, involved in the analysis of human neural implant data as part of the CyberKinetics BrainGate clinical trials. Yes, I am a graduate student, but as JD says, I'm one of those types that has lived several lives before returning to grad school. I am also the Senior Editor of the Digital Trends website, where I do product reviews, articles, and host the site's podcast. The folks there have stuck with me through some crazy times, and have absolutely earned my trust. They're good people. Before my time at Brown, I was a pharma rep, and before that a research neurophysiologist/programmer for Phil Kennedy, one of the pioneers of the invasive BCI field. I graduated from Emory University, with a double BS in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology (NBB) and Computer Science (minored in Philosophy).

This blog is intended to be focused on BCI, but there is a good chance I will delve into other topics related to neuroscience. As I said, there is a selfish motivation in creating this site, and one extension of that is the idea that it gives me a reason to pull together information, organize my thoughts, and express them in a (hopefully) clear manner.

With any public discussion of science and lab work there is a balance I am going to have to keep between disclosure and protection of my work. While there is very little chance I will be 'scooped' - the number of labs analyzing neural data from human implant subjects can be counted on one hand - I have to protect my projects and those of my fellow lab mates (and CyberKinetics, Inc, and the identities of patients). So let me say this now: The views expressed here are solely mine. They are not the views of CyberKinetics, Inc, Brown University, Neuroscience Graduate Program, The Donoghue Lab, John Donoghue/Michael Black/Jerome Sanes/Leigh Hochberg/etc. There will be no discussion of this material. Got it? Legal repercussions due to my caffeine infused, ADHD-esque, scatterbrained, sleep-deprived decisions are unacceptable! The decisions themselves, though, are delicious.

I will possibly be hosting a sister blog via Digital Trends on purely technology related topics. When that goes live, I'll announce it here as well. I have to budget my time wisely, with my primary obligation to the lab/grant, but I work best when I am distracted. it sounds counter-intuitive, but my attention fades quickly, and if I don't have a related 'distractor', I tend to drift away into unrelated work.