007 – Chad Bouton

Chad Bouton is the Center Head and Director of Bioelectronic Medicine (BEM) at the Feinstein Institute, the world’s leading research institute for this field. As an undergraduate student at Iowa State University (ISU), Bouton focused on electrical engineering. While in graduate school at ISU, he slowly gravitated towards physics and robotics, eventually leading to his first role in healthcare studying signal processing in the brain at Battelle. At Battelle, Bouton played a key role in developing neural coding methods that helped restored function in a paralyzed patient for the first time with a neural implant. He was recognized as “Inventor of the Year” and “Distinguished Inventor” by Battelle.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  1. The success of bioelectronic medicine will depend on how BEM will impact quality of life by identifying the needs of patients first.
  2. There are over 25 million people living in the world living with some form of significant paralysis.
  3. BEM has tremendous potential to impact both quality of life for individuals living with life-changing diseases as well as helping advance early detection methods for these diseases.

Show Notes.

  • [00:50] Chad’s original start in engineering which later led him to robotics and mechanics in grad school eventually leading to studying the brain signals of patients with paralysis.
  • [2:10] How to think about the differences between Brain Machine Interfaces and Bioelectronic Medicine.
  • [4:49] The potential of BEM to replace traditional pharmaceuticals being and the history of inflammatory reflexes.
  • [7:10] How far along are we from cracking “the neural code”?
  • [8:59] Theo Zanos’s research on “information extraction” from the Vagus Nerve that could help provide an indication of status or function of various organs in the human body.
  • [10:15] Why is BEM receiving a lower level of press compared to BCI?
  • [12:40] Why everything in BEM can be considered a feedback loop.
  • [14:07] Results from Chad’s research with BCI in restoring control for individuals dealing with paralysis.
  • [15:50] How training modalities for patients using devices will evolve in the coming years and why a focus on identifying mistakes instead of successes may help speed up the process.
  • [18:30] Where do the greatest difficulties lie with extracting data from the brain and then processing the data?
  • [21:10] Chad shares his thoughts on the potential for convergence of BCI and BEM.
  • [24:15] Targeting medical conditions is the greatest near-term need for BEM. It’s not a question of “if” but “when” we will have implants focused on enhancing quality of life.

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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.

006 – Dr. Stephen Rainey

Dr. Stephen Rainey. Dr. Rainey is a research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He is a working in the Horizon2020-funded project BrainCom, developing therapeutic brain-computer interfaces that will enable communication for users with debilitating speech conditions. Dr. Rainey studied philosophy in Queen’s University Belfast and obtained his PhD in 2008 with a thesis on rationality. He has taught a range of philosophical topics and worked on a number of European Commission-funded research projects. These have included work on ethics, emerging technologies, and governance.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Covert speech plays a key role in the development of neuroprosthetics while also presenting a problem on how to accurately filter thoughts meant to be kept internally versus expressed verbally.
  • Dr. Rainey’s background in philosophy helped shape his belief that the future of neural discoveries is dependent on the collaboration of experts with interdisciplinary backgrounds because every discipline has different constraints.
  • Humans tend to form visions of the future that aren’t much different than the present, which leads to dystopian views rather than utopian. The reality is something in between, hopefully closer to the latter, that wasn’t considered in the first place.

Show Notes.

  • [0:45] Stephen’s background in philosophy that eventually led him to a career in neuroscience, ethics, and emerging technologies.
  • [3:19] How are neuroprosthetics able to determine what is shielded vs. shared from the real world?
  • [4:44] How thought-to-text processes are different than thought-to-speech processes.
  • [7:33] Accuracy vs. Authenticity as it relates to neuroprosthetic devices.
  • [10:12] The interface amongst neuroscientists who come from varying interdisciplinary backgrounds.
  • [14:50] Scaling the concept of ethics for emerging technologies and the future of regulation.
  • [20:24] What is the “meaning of life” in an autonomous future?
  • [24:03] Stephen’s favorite books related to ethics and BCI.

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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.

005 – Ian Stevenson & Konrad Kording

Ian Stevenson. Ian is an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut in the Statistical Neuroscience Lab. Ian originally began his career in Physics, but moved into statistical neuroscience for his PhD at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he developed “Stevenson’s Law” with Dr. Konrad Kording. Throughout his career he has received numerous grants and awards for his field work from companies such as Nvidia, Yahoo, and Qualcomm.

Konrad Kording. Konrad is a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania where his lab focuses on causality as it relates to the human brain and machine learning. He received his PhD in Physics from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and has been a professor at Northwestern University, where he met Ian Stevenson, as well as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His three areas of focus include Bayesian modeling, data analysis, and neurotechnologies.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Neuron tracking plays a key role in our ability to understand the human brain.
  • Analyzing brain data is complex due to the need for causal driven results versus outcome driven results. Success in neuronal data analysis is determined by causal, rather than outcome, discovery.
  • To truly understand the brain, we must start asking the right questions rather than chasing solutions.

Show Notes.

  • [0:53] Ian and Konrad’s academic backgrounds.
  • [2:47] Ian and Konrad’s relationship as Ph.D. classmates that eventually led to a career in computational neuroscience.
  • [4:39] Stevenson’s Law vs. Moore’s Law as it relates to neuron tracking.
  • [6:30] Konrad breaks down the 7-year barrier for simultaneous neuron tracking.
  • [9:07] How does the approach to analyzing neuronal data sets differ from traditional data sets?
  • [11:39] Neuron patterns across different brains.
  • [14:29] How do we build on people’s research on the brain?
  • [15:34] An academic’s perspective on the emergence of private interest in the field of neuroscience.
  • [18:04] Ian and Konrad’s favorite neuroscience books.

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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.

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.

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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 Neurotech Podcast

We’re excited to announce that we’re launching a Neurotech 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. Neurotech is the ultimate expression of that.

Here are the first three episodes of our Neurotech 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.