For this 14th edition of the Mind the Brain symposium, we are very proud to introduce some of the key researchers and experts in their fields (among which are neuromarketing, deep brain stimulation, and brain-computer interfaces) whom will give you four top-of-the-bill keynote lectures! A brief introduction of our keynote lecturers can be found below:
Prof. Dr. Willem Verbeke - June 13th
"In the lecture I will discuss the work I have been doing with my Ph.D. students and colleagues over the last 10 years. While most researchers start their career in neuroscience, I only stepped into the field of neuroscience late in my career. This adventure however has given me more than I ever expected. In the lecture I provide an overview about our work on social neuroscience: specifically our work on fMRI, endocrinology, hyper EEG, resting state, genetics, and epigenetics. In the lecture I will make a coherent narrative about our research findings, concretely social neuroscience, as the research steps we took came into our minds like a domino chain reaction. In providing this narrative I hope to inspire young researchers on how to also undertake similar research adventures. Last but not least I offer young researchers some advice on what they should do to become a successful neuroscientist and how to avoid some mistakes that I have made during my research adventures."
Prof. Dr. Pieter Roelfsema - June 13th
Research: Visual cortex prosthesis
"A long-standing dream of scientists is to be able to directly project images from the outside world onto the cerebral cortex, bypassing the eyes. This method
could provide a solution for blind and visually impaired patients. In particular, it is the only possible solution for patients in whom the connection between eye
and brain is lost so that a retinal prosthesis is not an option.
I will first give an overview of the functioning of the visual cortex, which has low level areas for the analysis of simple visual features and higher areas for the analysis for more complex properties such as object category and face recognition. I will then give a brief overview of previous studies that implanted electrodes into the visual cortex of patients. The electrical stimulation of electrodes leads to artificial percepts called "phosphenes" and it also works in patients who have been blind for decades. The goal of our own research is to bring a prosthesis for the visual cortex closer. We are currently carrying out experiments with 1000 electrodes in the visual cortex with the aim to generate complex visual patterns."
Dr. Mariska van Steensel - June 14th
Research: Brain-computer interface
"My mission is to use the wealth of neuroscientific knowledge directly for the benefit of people with disease or disability. The main focus of my research since 2007, in the lab of Professor Nick Ramsey, has been the development and testing of an implantable Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) for communication in severely paralyzed people, based on subdural electrocorticographic electrodes. In my lecture, I will explain how BCIs work, and show the results of the initial proof-of-concept studies that led to the development of a fully implantable BCI for home use, the Utrecht Neural Prosthesis (UNP), and the implantation of that device in a woman with late stage ALS, in 2015. After a period of intensive collaboration with the participant, she is now able to use the system to communicate with her family and caregivers, without the presence of the research team, which demonstrates that the concept of implantable BCIs for home use by people who are severely paralyzed is feasible. Finally, I will elaborate on our current work that is aimed at developing the next generation implantable BCIs, which should allow for improved functionality by utilizing the detailed organization of the sensorimotor areas in the brain."
Dr. Rob Rouhl - June 14th
Research: Deep-brain stimulation
"Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in (young) adults. In about 1/3 of patients, the epilepsy will cause recurrent seizures, despite adequate treatment with medication. These patients suffer from refractory epilepsy. In some of these patients, surgical resection of the part of the brain which is involved in the start of the seizures is possible and leads to seizure freedom. Whenever this treatment is not possible, or has not worked out well enough, neuromodulation is the next step. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising treatment modality which may reduce seizures in these patients. However, results are variable with regard to treatment effect (seizure reduction) as well as to side effects of the stimulation. Rob’s goal in the deep brain stimulation in epilepsy research line in the ACE is to increase efficacy of DBS treatment in epilepsy and reduce side effects. To achieve this goal, electrophysiology, as well as advanced neuroimaging methods with high field MR scanners are used.''