Use Your Head: The Future of Mind Hacks

Location: Marina Ballroom F Level: Novice

A confluence of scientific breakthroughs and enabling technologies are providing us with more insight into our own heads than ever before. Brain scanning technologies like fMRI reveal in real-time which regions of our brains light up when, say, an advertisement affects us, we’re lying, or we think something is really funny. Stimulating specific neural circuits with electromagnetic pulses can alter mood, increase risk-taking behavior, and even improve reaction time. Meanwhile, evidence of neuroplasticity proves once and for all that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.

This panel will explore today’s mind hacks and brain fitness programs, tomorrow’s brain-machine interfaces and smart drugs, and the ethics of cognitive enhancement.

Photo of David Pescovitz

David Pescovitz, Institute for the Future, MAKE:

David Pescovitz ( is co-editor of the popular weblog and a research director with the Institute for the Future. He is also editor-at-large for MAKE: and writer-in-residence for UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. Pescovitz co-wrote the book Reality Check, based on his long-running forecasting column in Wired magazine where he remains a correspondent. He also has contributed to Scientific American, Popular Science, the New York Times, the Washington Post, New Scientist, Business 2.0, and many other publications. In 2002, he won the Foresight Prize in Communication, recognizing excellence in educating the public and research community about nanotechnology and other emerging technologies. Pescovitz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Electronic Media from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s in Journalism from UC Berkeley.

Photo of Daniel Marcus

Daniel Marcus

Washington University School of Medicine

Daniel Marcus directs the Neuroinformatics Research Group at Washington University School of Medicine. He architected the XNAT platform for running brain imaging data centers. Through his open access data projects, he has helped make thousands of brain scans freely available to researchers across the world. Dr. Marcus is also president of NRG Technologies, a commercial neuroimaging services venture.

Photo of Alvaro Fernandez

Alvaro Fernandez


Alvaro Fernandez is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of SharpBrains, a market research and advisory services firm that covers applications of cognitive neuroscience. Alvaro has been quoted by the New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, Venture Capital Journal, and more, and blogs for the Huffington Post. Alvaro holds an MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University, and has been appointed by the World Economic Forum to the Global Agenda Council on the Challenges of Gerontology.

Photo of Timo Hannay

Timo Hannay

Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Timo Hannay is Managing Director of Digital Science, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. dedicated to creating technology solutions for researchers. He was previously director of at Nature Publishing Group, Macmillan’s science publishing arm. Before that he worked as a consultant, journalist and research scientist.


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