23 — 03 — 18
Looking back #1: Brain Awareness Week 2018

This year's Brain Awareness Week took place from 12th to 18th March 2018 - a worldwide initiative of the Dana Foundation aiming on directing the interest of the public to current topics in the neurosciences and related disciplines.

Also Nexus Experiments took part this year again. In cooperation with the Chair of Biomedical Microtechnology at the Technical Faculty of the University of Freiburg. We posted some time-lapse images on Instagram over five days. The videos illustrate one of the core topics of research at BrainLinks-BrainTools: How can neurotechnology help people suffering from neurological or psychiatric diseases? And which ethical and social questions are connected with the use of neurotechnology?

As an example of neurotechnological diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, the drawings focus on deep brain stimulation (THS, Deep Brain Stimulation). Day #1 was about diseases that THS can deal with. The method is already approved for neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, focal epilepsy or essential tremor as well as obsessive-compulsive disorders in the psychiatric field. Clinical studies on the applicability of THS in chronic depression are currently underway. The drawings on the second day illustrate what is currently being researched in Freiburg. In order to treat brain diseases, it is first necessary to understand what is happening in the brain. Researchers have different technologies at their disposal, which differ in their degree of invasiveness, i.e. how deeply they penetrate the tissue. The most invasive method is THS. Electrodes are implanted deep into the brain, which on the one hand measure brain activity and on the other can stimulate the brain region in which they are located by electrical impulses - a so-called closed-loop system.

Day #3 was followed by some thoughts on ethical and philosophical aspects of neurotechnology, before the fourth day was devoted to the challenges facing engineers developing electrodes that can be implanted in the brain (e.g. corrosion, behaviour of electrodes in MRI, etc.).

Here you will find the video of the entire development process as well as the final drawings in a photo gallery:

Special thanks to Danesh Ashouri Vajari for his amazing drawings and Andreas Schönau and Tony Franzky, who contributed the video about the philosophical implications of neurotechnology on day #3.

Background

Brain Awareness Week is a worldwide initiative that has been in founded in 1995 and always takes place in the third week of March. During this period, events, lectures and workshops on the brain are offered around the globe. Universities, neuroscientific research institutions and laboratories are involved. In 2017, there were over 400 participating organizations in 40 countries with 895 events. By the way: The next Brain Awareness Week will take place from 11 to 17 March 2019.

 

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