004 – Gaurav Sharma

Garauv Sharma. Garauv won the 2016 BCI Award for real-time cortical control of functional wrist and finger movements in a human with quadriplegia. Gaurav currently works as a Senior Research Scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio. Gaurav holds the lead role on the NeuroLife Program at Battelle where they created a chip that allows patients with paralysis to perform specific movements with their own thoughts using NeuroLife’s non-invasive, high-definition neuromuscular electrical stimulation.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Multi-disciplinary backgrounds will help bring new ideas to traditional methods of studying the human brain.
  • Differences in functionality between the upper and lower limbs make it difficult to create a universal motion restoration technology.
  • In the near future, brain-computer interface (BCI) will be capable of enhancing brain plasticity and boost cognitive skills to help humans learn faster.

Show Notes.

  • [0:50] Initial Spark in Neuroscience and Medicine coming from an Engineering background.
  • [4:38] Start at Battelle and the jump to working with the brain through Nanotechnology.
  • [5:24] Gaurav’s thoughts on the importance of a multi-disciplinary background when studying the brain.
  • [6:32] Gaurav details the mechanisms used in his research of Real Time Cortical Control that contributed to the success of his team at the BCI Awards.
  • [7:40] A walk through of the 3 components of the device used for patients with quadriplegia.
  • [9:01] Gaurav compares how technology use differs between the upper-half of the body versus the lower-half of the body.
  • [11:58] The role that plasticity played in BCI integration with Gaurav’s patients.
  • [14:00] How using BCI with plasticity goes beyond regaining lost function to potentially enhance cognitive skills.
  • [15:28] The future of FDA approval for implantable BCI devices.
  • [17:42] Nano-delivery of drugs to the brain and how BCI technology impacts the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.
  • [19:49] Favorite Neuroscience or Neuro-Technology related book.

Selected Links.

Related Podcasts.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Introducing the Loup Ventures Braintech Podcast

We’re excited to announce that we’re launching a Braintech podcast.

As computing becomes more immersive, direct brain control is the optimal user interface. Throughout the history of computing – from desktop to laptop to smartphone to wearables – information is, literally, getting closer to us. As we move thru wearables, the next stage is implants. Braintech is the ultimate expression of that.

Here are the first three episodes of our Braintech podcast:

We hope you like it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. If so, please subscribe and share. And as a reminder, we also publish select Loup Ventures research as audio notes here.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

003 – Dr. Mikhail Lebedev

Mikhail “Misha” Lebedev, Ph. D. Born and raised in Moscow, Misha came to the United States after the Iron Curtain was lifted to continue studying Neurobiology. He has conducted research in Russia, Italy, Tennessee (where he earned his Ph.D.), Maryland, and eventually landed in his current position as a Senior Research Scientist at Duke University in the Center for Neuroengineering. The major focus of this research is on brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that enable direct cortical control of assistive devices that reproduce limb movements.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Sending information to the brain is easier than decoding information from the brain, resulting in faster development of sensory neuroprosthesis. Therefore, we will start to see an increased number of surface level, FDA approved, implantable devices within the next decade.
  • Brain-machine interfaces will have a tremendous impact on mental health and could cause a major shift from pharmaceutical treatments to implantable solutions.
  • As the BMI sector becomes increasingly tech-heavy, we will see greater involvement amongst enterprises who will bring a multi-disciplinary angle to the sector.

Show Notes.

  • [0:55] Misha’s initial spark that fueled interest in Neuroscience.
  • [3:40] The encoding and decoding process for BMI.
  • [5:50] Obstacles that slow the encoding and decoding process and how to work through them.
  • [7:20] The future of FDA approval for implantable BMI devices.
  • [9:30] Misha describes what a full body prosthesis is and what it means for people dealing with various forms of paralysis.
  • [11:00] Exoskeletal brain control and the future impact on BMI.
  • [13:17] The potential impact BMI could have in Mental Health and other functions of the brain.
  • [16:14] BMI impacting the way we use pharmaceuticals in treating the brain.
  • [17:40] Misha shares his thoughts on the growing interest of private companies in the field of BMI and Neuroscience.
  • [19:30] Misha shares his favorite Neuroscience book, Comparative Study of the Sensory Areas of the Human Cortex.

Selected Links.

Related Podcasts.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

002 – Jeff Hawkins

Jeff Hawkins Mr. Hawkins is an engineer, serial entrepreneur, scientist, inventor and author. His life-long interest in neuroscience and theories of the neocortex has driven his passion for building a technology based on neocortical theory. Previously, he founded two mobile computing companies, Palm and Handspring, and is the architect of many computing products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. In 2002, he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, a scientific institute focused on understanding how the neocortex processes information. The institute is currently located at U.C. Berkeley. In 2004 Jeff wrote the book, On Intelligence, which outlines Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) and describes progress on understanding the neocortex.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Intelligent machines should be judged by their ability to incorporate a set of dynamic properties with respect to their environment, not complete or understand a specific task.
  • Intelligence and consciousness are co-dependent. Consciousness allows our brain to recall specific memories in order to make intelligent decisions.
  • By understanding the neo-cortex, you can show that it is both biologically testable and something you can implement for use in software and hardware.

Show Notes.

  • [1:26] Mr. Hawkins talks about what led to his inspiration to combine neuroscience and computer science.
  • [2:23] Mr. Hawkins talks about the goal and vision for Numenta.
  • [3:20] Numenta’s progress and timeline for understanding the brain and the history of becoming a brain theorist.
  • [4:50] How Numenta is different than other deep learning techniques.
  • [6:35] Mr. Hawkins talks about how he defines intelligence.
  • [8:40] Mr. Hawkins talks about how he defines consciousness versus intelligence.
  • [9:38] The current interpretation of human consciousness and why fear of AI is irrational.
  • [11:45] AI as an existential threat to humanity and the importance of understanding how brains work.
  • [14:01] Mr. Hawkins shares his main takeaways on what he has learned from writing On Intelligence over the past 10 years.
  • [16:00] How do you translate research into a salable product?
  • [19:50] Rapid fire question round with Mr. Hawkins.

Selected Links.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

001 – Dr. Michael Merzenich

Dr. Michael Merzenich. Dr. Merzenich has spent his career studying the topic of brain plasticity. Currently, he serves as the Chief Scientific Officer at Posit Science. Dr. Merzenich is also a professor emeritus neuroscientist at UCSF. While at UCSF, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that developed the first cochlear implant. Over the course of his career, Dr. Merzenich has published more than 150 articles and has been granted over 100 patents. He recently released his book, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • The human brain changes over its lifetime, and can reorganize itself and form new connections between brain cells.
  • Training in brain plasticity can reduce or reverse effects of aging, and even help treat patients with psychiatric illnesses.
  • Ours brains can adapt and work in unison with technology.

Show Notes.

  • [1:22] Dr. Merzenich talks about his initial interests that lead him to Neuroscience.
  • [2:00] How researchers have thought about brain plasticity over time.
  • [3:47] How the plasticity of our brain changes as we age.
  • [5:22] Dr. Merzenich talks about the research that inspired Brain HQ.
  • [7:53] Current brain plasticity software tools and how they are used as treatment for individuals with psychiatric illnesses, compared to drug treatments.
  • [10:28] Dr. Merzenich’s work with on the first cochlear implant and the impact that brain plasticity had on the device.
  • [13:00] Outlook for neuro-prosthetic devices.
  • [14:25] Importance of manufacturers to design products with patient training in mind.
  • [15:02] Dr. Merzenich’s favorite books about neuroscience.
  • [16:12] The single thing that Dr. Merzenich to do every day to improve brain plasticity.
  • [17:11} What Dr. Merzenich would study and research if he were a first-year college student.

Selected Links.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.