Edward Chang, PhD
University of California, San Francisco
Edward Chang is the Joan and Sanford Weill Chair and Jeanne Robertson Distinguished Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Chang’s clinical expertise is surgical therapies for epilepsy, pain, and brain tumors. He specializes in advanced neurophysiologic brain mapping methods, including awake speech and motor mapping, to safely perform neurosurgical procedures in eloquent areas of the brain. His research focuses on the discovery of cortical mechanisms of high-order neurological function in humans. Dr. Chang’s laboratory has demonstrated the detailed functional organization of the human speech cortex and has translated those discoveries towards the development of a speech neuroprosthetic device to restore communication for people living with paralysis. Dr. Chang is the 2015 Blavatnik National Laureate in Life Sciences and member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Andrea Kübler, PhD
University of Würzburg, Institute of Psychology
Prof. Kübler, PhD, Biologist and Psychologist, is Associate Professor at the University of Würzburg, Institute of Psychology, and her major research topics within the field of BCI are psychological aspects, and neuroscientific basis of BCI control and studies with patients in the field. She is working on using neurofeedback for communication, rehabilitation and therapy, i.e. for replacing and improving lost or impaired function. Besides being an expert in the clinical application of BCI she is a trainer of mindfulness based stress reduction and mindfulness based pain management. She is investigating different aspects of the mindfulness concept from basic questions on how to define mindfulness to mindfulness-based interventions in chronic disease, such as COPD, Fibromyalgia or Parkinson’s disease. In 2022 she was ranked 37/100 best female scientists in Germany and 904/1000 worldwide.
Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD
Associate Professor Thomas Oxley MBBS BMedSc FRACP PhD is a vascular and interventional neurologist and world expert in brain computer interfaces. He is Associate Professor and Laboratory Head of the Vascular Bionics Laboratory, University of Melbourne, Australia, as well as Clinical Instructor, Attending in the Department of Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr Oxley has performed over 1600 endovascular neurosurgical procedures, including cerebral aneurysm coiling and clot retrievals in acute stroke. Dr Oxley has published over 100 internationally peer reviewed articles in journals including JAMA Neurology, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Biomedical Engineering, New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. Dr Oxley is the founding CEO of Synchron, a brain data transfer company based in Brooklyn, NY and has raised over $145M in both private funding and grants. Synchron is developing the leading endovascular implantable brain computer interface, StentrodeTM, a system that aims to provide a treatment for debilitating medical illnesses and enable patients to feel empowered by reconnecting online in ways that can dramatically improve their lives. In 2022, Dr Oxley and Synchron commenced a clinical trial on the Stentrode motor neuroprosthesis that is paving the way towards first FDA approval for marketing of implantable brain computer interfaces.
Early Career Award Speakers
Aquitaine Institute for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience, Univ. Bordeaux & CNRS, France
Camille Jeunet received her PhD in cognitive sciences in 2016 at the University of Bordeaux, France. After a post-doctoral fellowship in Inria (Rennes, France) and EPFL (Geneva, Switzerland), she was recruited as a tenured CNRS Research Scientist. She first joined the CLLE lab in Toulouse in 2018. In 2021, she has rejoined the institute for cognitive and integrative neurosciences (INCIA) in Bordeaux, where she leads an interdisciplinary research on the use of EEG-BCIs to improve or restore cognitive and motor abilities, both for clinical (stroke patients and patients with Parkinson disease) and non-clinical (athletes) populations. She is particularly interested in studying the learning mechanisms underlying neurofeedback training as well as the acceptability of neurofeedback procedures and BCI technologies. Camille Jeunet has received 3 PhD awards, the European Label as well as 3 national fundings from the French research agency for her research. Since 2017, she is a board member of the French BCI association, CORTICO.
Neural Prosthetics Translational Laboratory, Stanford University, USA
Frank Willett is a Research Scientist working in the Neural Prosthetics Translational Laboratory at Stanford University. His work is aimed broadly at brain-computer interfaces and understanding how the brain represents and controls movement. Recently, Frank has developed a brain-computer interface that can decode attempted handwriting movements from neural activity in motor cortex. Frank has also worked on understanding how different body parts are represented in motor cortex at single neuron resolution. This work led to a surprising finding: what was previously thought to be “arm/hand” area of motor cortex actually contains an interlinked representation of the entire body. Prior to working at Stanford University, Frank earned his PhD in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Jonathan R. Wolpaw, M.D.
National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies
Dr. Wolpaw is a neurologist who has devoted over 50 years to basic and clinical research. His group developed operant conditioning of spinal reflexes as a model for defining the plasticity underlying learning, and went on to show that this conditioning can improve walking in animals and people with spinal cord injuries. This work introduced the new therapeutic method of targeted neuroplasticity. His group has also guided development of brain-computer interface (BCI) principles and methods and demonstrated the capabilities of noninvasive BCIs; they are now exploring BCI use for neurorehabilitation. Most recently, in response to the growing appreciation of the lifelong plasticity of the CNS, he has put forward a new paradigm for understanding how useful behaviors are acquired and maintained through life, a paradigm based on the new concepts of heksors and the negotiated equilibrium of CNS properties that heksors create. His group has been supported throughout by NIH, the Veterans Administration, and private foundations; the work has been recognized by national and international awards.
Abstract - Brain-Computer Interfaces Create Synthetic Heksors
BCIs enable the CNS to acquire skills produced by brain signals. BCI development can benefit from recent advances in understanding natural muscle-based skills. Each muscle-based skill is produced and maintained by a unique CNS entity, which we call a heksor. A heksor is a widely distributed network of neurons and synapses that changes itself as needed to ensure that its skill remains satisfactory. Heksors overlap each other; they share neurons and synapses. Through their concurrent changes, heksors negotiate the properties of the neurons and synapses they all use; they keep the CNS in a state of negotiated equilibrium that enables each
heksor to maintain its skill. These concepts are supported by animal and human studies, explain otherwise inexplicable results, underlie promising new therapeutic strategies, and offer new answers to important neuroscientific questions (e.g., generation and function of spontaneous neuronal activity, etiology of muscle synergies, and control of homeostatic plasticity). These new concepts can also guide BCI development. A BCI creates what is best described as a synthetic heksor. A synthetic heksor is a network of neurons and synapses combined with adaptive software; network and software adapt to each other so as to acquire and maintain a skill produced by brain signals. Present interest focuses on three kinds of synthetic heksors. First, a BCI can create a therapeutic synthetic heksor that targets beneficial plasticity to a crucial site in a natural heksor that has been damaged by a stroke or other lesion (e.g., the locomotion heksor); this can trigger wider plasticity that helps restore the muscle-based skill. BCIs of this kind are entering clinical use. Second, a BCI can create a synthetic heksor that replaces a communication or control skill lost to injury or disease. BCIs of this kind have not yet attained the speed, accuracy, and – most important – the reliability of muscle-based skills. Their future depends on learning how to integrate synthetic heksors into an expanded negotiated equilibrium that enables both natural and synthetic heksors to maintain their skills. Finally, a laboratory BCI can create synthetic heksors that illuminate principles and mechanisms underlying negotiations among natural heksors in the healthy CNS.
Wolpaw JR, Kamesar A. Heksor: the central nervous system substrate of an adaptive behaviour. Journal of Physiology 600.15:3423-3452, 2022. DOI:10.1113/JP283291