Neurotechnology and the Military

“Every generation has been trying to figure out how to use brain-related technology to improve security,” from caffeine to computer enhancement, bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., said at the Capitol Hill briefing “Neurotechnology and the Military” last week. Moreno and neuroscientist Leigh Hochberg, M.D., Ph.D., had teamed up to give a similar presentation at a luncheon six years ago, and on Friday the two brought us up to date.

Hochberg

Leigh Hochberg used video clips to show how BrainGate works (photo courtesy of The Society for Neuroscience).

Thanks to a half-century of federally funded basic research, researchers have developed a chip carrying 144 electrodes that can be inserted into people’s skulls (over the motor cortex) and send impulses to computers to drive a cursor or a mechanical object, said Hochberg, the director of the Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Brown University and Harvard Medical School.

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Free Public Briefing on Neurotechnology and the Military

In the Washington, DC area on Friday lunchtime? Come learn about cutting-edge, brain-related technologies that are particularly relevant to members of the military and their families.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Come to a free public luncheon briefing, “Neurotechnology and the Military,” hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through the support of the Dana Foundation, and in conjunction with the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus.

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Neuroethics Society Meeting: Science Communication

Tali Sharot, Alan Leshner, Joseph Fins, and Ed Yong

Gone are the days when science communication mainly consisted of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Instead, there’s a “hunger” among scientists, and particularly young scientists, to communicate their work to public, said Alan Leshner, CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI).

But just because the enthusiasm is there doesn’t mean that communicating science to a lay audience is an easy feat for scientists. “It’s not an innate skill, it’s an acquired skill,” Leshner said during a panel discussion at the International Neuroethics Society annual meeting yesterday in Washington, DC.   Continue reading

Neuroscience and Society: To Tell the Truth!

Elizabeth Loftus, Charles Dike, and Victoria Talwar

In the animal kingdom, humans have the unique distinction of being the species that tell lies, which researcher Victoria Talwar describes as “verbal statements made with the intention to deceive.” An emphasis is placed on the word “intention” because this is what distinguishes lies from other false statements, such as mistakes or sarcasm. During a Neuroscience & Society program held this week in conjunction with the International Neuroethics Society’s annual meeting, Talwar described her work on the development of understanding behind truth and lying in children. Fellow panelists Elizabeth Loftus focused on the malleability of human memory and how this affects honesty, while Charles Dike described the layers of many questions behind pathological liars and the distinctions this type of lying has from others.

One point all three speakers shared is that lying is a normal part of life; it follows stages of cognitive development and persists into adulthood. Adults tell an average of one lie a day, said Talwar and Dike.

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Neuroscientists Heading to Washington, DC, This Week

sfn2017We’re heading off to attend the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting, which officially starts next Saturday in Washington, DC. Some 30,000 neuroscientists and others will converge in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – a city’s worth of brain-lovers! Just before that, we’ll be taking in the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS), held at the AAAS Building, just down the street. Stay tuned for posts and photos from both. Here’s some of what we’re looking forward to; many of the non-science sessions this year are on aspects of science communication and outreach.

NOTE: If you’re nearby, some of these events are free and open to the public—come by and say hi!

Thursday, Nov. 9

5:30 pm to 8 pm (Eastern time) “To Tell the Truth!,” a public forum where an international group of experts will discuss how we learn to lie, why some people lie a lot, and the limits on our abilities to detect lies—even when we are lying to ourselves. Come on by if you’re in the DC area: This event, part of the INS meeting at AAAS, is free, but please register.

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