Meeting the mind:
The Neurotechnology revolution
A NEW ERA IN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE BRAIN
Throughout human history, the mind has been incomprehensible, other-worldly and beyond reach. The Bible describes all manner of thoughts and emotions but does not once mention the brain. Aristotle thought that the brain was a cooling mechanism for the blood. Centuries later, although the modern fields of biology and medicine have fundamentally transformed our understanding of the body and our ability to heal it, most scientists still think of the brain as the “final frontier” of research.
Yet now, the world had made advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology that, until recently, seemed impossible: brain-controlled prosthetics, neuroimaging technologies that can detect tiny lesions, cochlear implants that restore hearing, and others. Recent advances in science and technology will allow us to address some of mankind's greatest challenges. Imagine a world free of the heartbreak of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Imagine a world we can reach into with our minds even if our bodies were sick or broken. Imagine a world where the blind can see.
That world is beginning to take shape in Israel today. Israeli companies and academics are playing a leading role in nurturing innovations across the spectrum of neuroscience and neurotechnology. These innovations will transform lives and the world we live in. Here are just some examples:
■ BrainsGate, an early stage company, is developing a novel implantable stimulation device that increases blood flow to the brain, significantly reducing brain damage caused by ischemic stroke
■ BrainStorm uses stem cell transplants to provide treatment for currently- incurable neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, ALS and conditions such as spinal cord injury
This paper elaborates on two exciting opportunities that stem from a technology platform which enables bidirectional communication between the human brain and machines: connecting the brain directly to the outside world (the Brain Machine Interface or BMI) and the development of therapeutic neurostimulation devices.