Interest in brain-machine interfaces (BMIs, also known as brain-computer interfaces) has surged in industry, with startups like CTRL-Labs, Mind-X and Neuralink seeking to develop and eventually commercialize devices intended to augment our own brains. Dr. Krishna Shenoy serves as an advisor to many of these emerging tech companies, and so when I found out I was to interview him for the next Inscopix podcast, I felt beyond excited.
Krishna is a Howard Hughes Investigator and the Hong Seh and Vivian W. M. Lim Professor of Engineering at Stanford University who specializes in BMIs for the motor system. He focuses on building prosthetics for people with paralysis in addition to using BMIs in nonhuman primates to ask basic questions about how the brain works. In this podcast, Krishna unpacked what BMIs are, the current state of BMI technology, and the future of BMIs. We talked through some of the central challenges in the BMI field, and considered new methods, like optical methods for recording brain activity in hundreds of specific neurons combined with optogenetics, for advancing basic neuroscience research and better BMIs. Ultimately, we learned from Krishna why there’s so much interest in BMIs from the tech space.
In the last part of the podcast, I had time to ask my favorite question. Krishna told us a bit about his unusual yet idyllic childhood and how that shaped his ability to integrate academic disciplines. We learned what personality traits have been central to his scientific success, and what advice he’d give to neuroscientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, and learned a LOT. I invite you to listen until the end to hear from such a brilliant world-renowned expert in BMIs!