Neurotechnology the future of the human experience
The human brain... the last frontier. Over recent decades, the quest to better understand the working of the brain has seen contributions from multiple scientific disciplines. The state of current learning puts us at an inflection point in human history. Developments in brain-machine interfaces and optogenetics - the ability to trigger neuronal activity on demand - raise, for the first time, the prospect of direct read/write access to the brain. The potential consequences for human experience are profound, ranging from dramatic improvements in cognitive function and memory, to threats to the privacy of mental inner-life and the scope to manipulate emotions and perceptions on demand. Technical challenges are matched by profound ethical and societal implications: how far can we go? And how far should we?
I’M CURIOUS ABOUT... “EXPLORING THE INTERFACE BETWEEN ENGINEERING AND NEUROSCIENCE AND HOW WE CAN USE THIS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND BRAIN FUNCTION AND DYSFUNCTION.”Dr Simon Schultz
Simon Schultz grew up in North East Victoria, Australia, attending school in Wangaratta. He graduated with a BSc/BEng from Monash University, in Physics and Electrical Engineering, and from Sydney University with a Masters in Electrical Engineering, before reading for a DPhil in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford under Prof Edmund Rolls. He has held research fellowship positions at New York University and University College London. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and is on the Editorial board of the Journal of Computational Neuroscience.
Simon's research focuses on 'reverse engineering' the information processing architecture of the brain, using an engineering approach which combines experimental and theoretical work.
- What are the basic mechanisms of information processing in cortical circuits?
- How can better understanding of these mechanisms contribute to understanding of disease states, such as dementia?
- Beyond disease, what opportunities - and challenges - arise from our growing abilities to measure and manipulate neuronal function directly?
Dr Schultz's predictions from 2012
Within 1 year
Lifestyle neuropharmaceuticals will be sold online; expect to see new start-up companies offering ‘neurotech’ products.
Within 5 years
We will be able to read dreams
Within 5 years
Alzheimers will have a breakthrough thanks to neurotechnology.
Within 20 years
Brainwriting the ability to upload data directly to the brain.