Leuven.Inc Visionary seminar: Connecting to the brain - 'A Mind Machine Interface'

Organised by Leuven.Inc in cooperation with imec. Powered by VIB.

Brain implants have become an important tool to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Nearly hundred thousand people suffering from brain impairment (Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression,...) have been helped with either a cellular or an electronic brain implant.    

In most therapeutic brain implants an external signal is applied to stimulate the brain.  In reverse, signals generated by the brain can be detected as well.  A combination of recording and stimulating simultaneously is possible.  This allows to 'close the loop',  sending a responsive signal to the brain, based on input from the brain itself.  This requires processing and interpreting brain signals by virtue of an external miniaturized classical computer. 

Thanks to the increase in neurophysiology and computer processing power in the last decade, enormous progress in the application of brain implants has been made.  For example, mind machine interface technology has made it possible for a paralyzed human being to drink coffee by means of brain signal based robotic control. 

In this symposium, which is also a NERF outreach program intended for the general public, we will introduce the 'Mind Machine Interface' and illustrate two state-of-the-art applications. 

NERF is a neuro-electronics research initiative in Flanders founded by VIB, imec and KU Leuven, targeting at new medical applications for the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders or malfunction.

Practical aspects

Date: Wednesday 24 April, 2013
Location: imec, auditorium, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven (Heverlee)


16h00: Welcome coffee
16h30: Welcome by Leuven.Inc
16h40: Introduction
Emre Yaksi, NERF Director and Prof. Neurophysiology KU Leuven
16h55: Current and future technologies for simultaneous recording and analysis of brain cell activity
Bruce McNaughton, Principal Investigator University of Lethbridge, Canada and visiting Neuroscientist at NERF
Introduction to the recording of signals from specific areas of the brain
17h25: Reliving your experiences: memory processing in the brain
Fabian Kloosterman, Neuroscientist KU Leuven and Principal Investigator at NERF
Illustration of how brain signals can be understood and interpreted to read a rodent's mind
17h55: Coffee break
18h20: How brain networks make us intelligent
Francesco Battaglia, Neuroscientist University of Nijmegen and visiting Neuroscientist at NERF 
Insight in real time computation and processing of the massive amount of data emerging from the brain and how to turn this into a useful feedback signal
18h50: Neurostimulation for epilepsy, from the bench to the patient
Paul Boon, Prof. Neurology University of Ghent
Explanation of the use of the closed loop system for treatment of epilepsy
19h20: Restoring lost connections with a brain-spinal interface
Jack DiGiovanna, senior scientist Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Illustration of the different facets of a brain-spinal interface in an animal model of spinal cord injury
19h50 Q&A
20h10: Drinks and snacks

The interventions will be held in English 

Participation fee

135 euro (excl. VAT): members of Leuven.Inc - 175 euro (excl. VAT): all others
Special fee available for Master and PhD students affiliated to and billable by KU Leuven or other universities.  Please do contact us by e-mail.
logo-kmo-portefeuille Participation in our activities at -50% discount via KMO-portefeuille Pijler OPLEIDING: Leuven.Inc Approval number DV.O106761
More info:
KMO portefeuille request: for this seminar you indicate 4 training hours.


Registrations before Wednesday April 17th, 2013, preferably via the online registration form (use the 'Register' button) or by email to admin@leuveninc.com (including all contact and invoice details).

After registration you will receive a confirmation and route description. The registration fee is payable after receipt of invoice. Cancellation after subscription is not possible. However, replacement by a colleague is allowed.*

* As an (Associate) Company Member you can be replaced by a colleague. As an individual Member you can only be replaced by another Individual Member. When this is not possible, Leuven.Inc will charge an extra fee for the replacement by a non-member.



Reliving your experiences: memory processing in the brain - Fabian Kloosterman, Neuroscientist KU Leuven and Principal Investigator at NERF
All daily experiences leave lasting traces in our brain that allow us to recall memorable events and that are the basis for our knowledge of the world around us. Memories allow us to connect the past with the future – to anticipate upcoming events based on what we know from prior exposures to similar contexts. In this talk I will show that by listening in to the activity of hundreds of cells in the brain we can obtain a better understanding of how memories are represented and processed in the brain. 

How brain networks make us intelligent - Francesco Battaglia, University of Nijmegen and visiting neuroscientist at NERF
Our behavior involves the interaction of many large networks of neurons, one in each brain area, according to laws that we are just beginning to unravel. I will propose some network architecture that could efficiently deal with complex structures, like language, and show how the recording and control of hundreds or thousands of neurons is helping us and will help us even more in the future to understand those laws. 

Restoring lost connections with a brain-spinal interface - Jack DiGiovanna, senior scientist Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Brain-machine interfaces create artificial bridges to connect a person's brain to external devices; these prosthetics can partially replace lost functions. Brain-spinal interfaces use a different philosophy - they aim to restore functions by exploiting the existing spinal circuitry. In this talk, I will illustrate the multiple facets of such interfaces. Specifically, I will show examples of brain states which correspond to locomotion and spinal stimulation strategies which create complex locomotion.  


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