October 23, 2018 | Updated: November 20, 2020
Neuroscience is a fascinating field, and one in which breakthrough neurotechnology developments are materializing at a rapid pace.
Machines can assist with the functioning of the human brain when necessary. Neurostimulation is a type of technology that uses electromagnetic approaches to affect the nervous system. Neurostimulation has helped paralyzed people walk, and work is being done to use similar technology to give tactile feeling to people using prosthetics, as well as pain.
Another neuroscience technology breakthrough is a mind-controlled robotic arm that can decipher which thoughts are directed at it, and perform the task the user is thinking of, allowing the brain to control the machine.
“The researchers developed algorithms to read the electrical activity of the brain associated with different actions,” reports IEEE Spectrum. “When a person thinks about performing some kind of physical task—say picking up a glass of water—neurons in particular regions of the brain fire, generating a pattern of electrical activity that is unique to that type of task.”
Machines aside, there’s also exciting research into materials that can help address neurological damage and disorders. One example is this work combining graphene with neurological tissue, in which a layer of graphene can increase neuronal firing and improve function for the patient.
In all, there are a lot of promising neurological technologies to keep track of, and an array of information, organizations and events that can help you learn more about this industry.
How Technologists Are Collaborating with Neuroscientists
IEEE Brain was formed in late 2015 to help facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration and coordination to advance research, standardization and development of technologies in neuroscience to help improve the human condition.
IEEE Brain recently released a Technology Roadmap White Paper that discussed the advancements in closed-loop brain machine interfaces (BMI) neurotechnologies. The IEEE Brain Workshop on Advanced Neurotechnologies, a bi-annual event, brings together internationally renowned experts in industry and academic to highlight the latest novel technological innovations as well as to demonstrate clinical results in translational neural engineering to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, including movement-related disorders, pain, epilepsy and depression.
Advancements in neuroscience come with responsibility. IEEE Brain is engaged in thoughtful conversations with a broad community to ensure engineers are developing tools and technologies with guidelines and an understanding of the ethical, legal and social (ELS) implications of their work, developing forums to encourage collaboration.
IEEE Brain also offers opportunities for the next generation of entrepreneurs in this emerging field through training that includes topics such as translating academic research into commercial products, helping them with customer and stakeholder analysis, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, and fundraising.
In the past, the IEEE Future Directions Committee has also hosted a Technology Time Machine (TTM) conference — a flagship conference on the direction of future technologies. Past events included “Neuroscience and Brain”, focused on the technology roadmap for brain-machine interaction, and the benefits and ethical dilemmas it presents. “Far Futures” covered the ongoing evolution of human/machine symbiotic intelligence and the development of neural prosthesis, among other topics. And some of the “Young Entrepreneurs and IEEE N3XT®” discussions featured founders and investors engrossed in the world of brain computer interfaces and healthcare technologies.
To continue learning about neuroscience and future technologies, download and subscribe to the IEEE Podcast Series to hear from fantastic people across different industries and global backgrounds on how their work is impacting the lives of many people.