MAN AND MACHINE_ Cognitive Enhancement
DATE: Thursday, May 28, 2015
TIME: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
MODERATOR: John Rennie
PARTICIPANTS: Marom Bikson, Richard Haier, Alayar Kangarlu, Leah Moran, Tarique Perera, Michael Weisend

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Does electrical stimulation to the brain hold the key to better treatment for depression, stroke, and other neurological problems? This salon took an in-depth look at the use of TMS (magnetic) and tDCS (electrical) devices. Attendees heard from a psychiatrist and a depression patient he has treated with electric stimulation, as well as from neuroscientists who demonstrated these devices and discussed what their research is telling them about the potential for treatment.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.

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Science Writer

John Rennie is an award-winning science writer, editor, and lecturer based in New York City. Viewers of the Weather Channel know him as the host of the original series Hacking the Planet and cohost of the hit special The Truth About Twisters. He is also the editorial director of McGraw-Hill Education’s AccessScience, the highly respected online reference that carries on the tradition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. Rennie served as editor in chief of Scientific American between 1994 and 2009. During his tenure, the magazine twice won National Magazine Awards with the single-topic issues “What You Need to Know About Cancer” (1996) and “A Matter of Time” (2002). His 2002 article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” is one of the most read and downloaded articles in the history of ScientificAmerican.com.


Biomedical Engineer

Marom Bikson is a Cattell Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the City College of New York (CCNY) of the City University of New York (CUNY) and codirector of the Neural Engineering Group at the New York Center for Biomedical Engineering. Bikson has published over 200 papers and book chapters and is inventor on over 30 patent applications. He is known for his work on brain targeting with electrical stimulation, cellular physiology of electric effects, and electrical safety. Bikson coinvented High-Definition transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS), the first noninvasive, targeted, and low-intensity neuromodulation technology. He consults for medical technology companies and regulatory agencies on the design, validation, and certification of medical instrumentation. Bikson is cofounder of Soterix Medical Inc. and WiPOX LLC. Marom Bikson received a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, and a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.


Richard J. Haier is professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Haier is also the associate editor of the Intelligence journal and the president-elect of the International Society for Intelligence Research. His main research interest uses neuroimaging to investigate the structural and functional neuroanatomy of higher cognitive processes, especially human intelligence. Haier is the author of The Neuroscience of Intelligence. His research has been featured on Nova Science Now, NPR, CBS Sunday Morning, and in TIME, Newsweek, and Scientific American Mind. Richard J. Haier received his Ph.D. in psychology from Johns Hopkins University and his previous appointments include NIMH and Brown University. Haier’s set of video lectures called The Intelligent Brain is available from the Great Courses Company.

Physicist, Neuroscientist

Alayar Kangarlu is an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Columbia University. His research is on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its application in medicine. While at Ohio State University in 1996, their team built an 8 Tesla MRI scanner. In the past 12 years in Columbia, Kangarlu and his team have been developing new imaging, spectroscopic, and functional techniques to help neuroscientists better understand the human brain. He is currently using MRI to map functional connectivity and brain chemistry to advance understanding of the etiology of neuropsychiatric diseases. He will use this knowledge to assess how the brain responds to drugs and other therapeutic techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). He is dedicated to developing innovative uses of MRI in unraveling the inner working of the human brain to learn the mechanism of neuropsychiatric disorders and help with the discovery of new treatments.


Leah Moran is a postdoctoral research fellow at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Moran’s research involved neuroimaging techniques applied to psychiatric disorders with the aim of improving conventional treatments and informing novel treatment strategies. She completed two doctoral degrees and a four-year Clinical Psychology Residency Training Program. Her current objective is to further master neuroimaging techniques with the goal of combining noninvasive neuroimaging to examine brain network abnormalities with brain stimulation techniques aimed at ameliorating psychiatric symptoms arising from neural network dysfunction.


Tarique Perera

Tarique Perera is a board-certified psychiatrist with offices in Greenwich and Danbury, Connecticut, and Manhattan. He received his medical doctorate at Harvard Medical School and completed his residency training at Columbia University. Perera has world-class training and is an expert in medication management and psychotherapy. He is a thought leader in psychopharmacology and is the president of the TMS Society.

12137 Cory MacPherson, WSRI Researcher Mike Weisend 9-12-13

Michael Weisend is a neuroscientist whose research uses structural and functional neuroimaging to investigate normal memory, epilepsy, mental illness, and cognitive dysfunction. He is an expert in identifying brain areas where epilepsy originates and where motor, sensory, and language cortices are located using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Neurosurgeons use MEG results in planning brain surgeries for tumors or epilepsy. His team also developed novel approaches and technologies that combine neuroimaging with transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) to enhance learning and vigilance in civilian and military subjects. Weisend and his team have published on topics ranging from traumatic brain injury and mental illness to novel technologies in neuroimaging and brain stimulation. His work has been featured in numerous popular media outlets, including Newsweek, Business Week, The New Scientist, Scientific American, NOVA, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Radio Lab, TEDxDayton, and others. Weisend and his team’s work is, or has been, funded by NARSAD, VA, NIH, AFRL, DARPA, CDMRP, DOE, and industry.