EPFL exploring the borders of science in the US

EPFL will be well represented at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. The AAAS holds one of the largest scientific annual conferences in North America each year.

EPFL professors will be presenting their work to thousands of fellow scientists and scientific journalists at the AAAS annual meeting this year. In Washington D.C. from February 17th to the 20th, the annual meeting will be attended by up to 10,000 scientists, engineers, policymakers, educators, and members of the general public, along with some 1,000 journalists from 50 or so nations. It gathers specialists to learn and discuss a range of topics from the far out (the search for extra terrestrial intelligence) to urgent policy issues (nuclear waste management).

Neuro-Science Without Borders

Within this year's theme Science Without Borders, EPFL professors Olaf Blanke, José Millán and Miguel Nicolelis will be presenting their work in the neurosciences – research that fits well with this year’s topic. For there is no border more fundamental than the one between man and the external world, but the limit between what is the self and what is separate from our body can be manipulated, extended, and explored when traditional scientific disciplines work together in seemingly unlikely combinations such as neuroscience and robotics, and psychology and computer science. Millán and Nicolelis’ work in neuroprosthetics as well as Blanke’s work with Virtual Reality (VR) and body illusions are pushing these boundaries by exploring new interfaces between man and machine.

Virtual keyboards, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and even simple robots can all be controlled using brain activity picked up by an EEG, but it can be very tiresome with long-term use. Jose Millan’s research team at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland will be presenting research that points the way to taking these interfaces to the next level and therefore make one more step towards bringing this technology to people with disabilities. See article.

Olaf Blanke will present work that combines techniques from cognitive science with those of virtual reality (VR) and brain imaging. He and his team of researchers and engineers are narrowing in on the first experimental, data-driven approach to understanding self-consciousness. See article.

The association, whose prestigious publication Science is the most-read scientific journal in the world, was founded in 1848. 262 scientific associations and academies are affiliated with AAAS, implicating a total of around 10 million people.

Author: Michael David Mitchell

Source: EPFL