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Air Date: November 3, 2020 | Length: 52:27
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What if a tiny computer chip could be implanted into the brain to look out for epileptic seizures and then stop them before they ever occur? Sounds like science fiction – and yet – Dr. TaufikValiante's lab at the Krembil Research Institute has done just that. His chip is called 'NURIP' – the acronym for neural interface processor and it's inspiration came from the engineering concept of control theory and applied to the brain. NURIP "is this idea that we can modulate, alter brain activity in a way to push the brain away from states that are bad for it, and epilepsy is just an example," explains Dr. Valiante. NURIP is entering the animal model testing phase and if successful would be a game changer in the treatment of epilepsy.
In this compelling and wide ranging interview the award winning neurosurgeon also explores the danger of burnout for healthcare workers and reveals his experience with depression. "You have this kind of sense of hopelessness and hopelessness is a very big component of depression where you feel no matter what I do, I'm going to be stuck in this state," says Dr. Valiante. His way back to mental wellness was in part an overwhelming desire to connect with people, as well as spiritual teachings.
"It's this idea of, you know, this Buddhist philosophy….be kind to yourself…that's something which I think is so critically important."
Dr. Taufik Valiante is interested in understanding the building blocks of the human brain (neurons) and the ultimate manifestation of their collective activity (oscillations to cognition—depending on the scale of investigation). Dr. Valiante's collaborations with amazing scientists and students enable him to contribute to research on memory, eye movements, epilepsy, biophysical properties of neurons, computational modelling, mathematical modelling, neuromodulation (electrical, music, optical), the development of physical tools (optical, electrical), and brain-machine interfaces. Dr. Valiante's multi-scale endeavors satisfy a personal desire to realize the title of a very formative book introducing him to the field of experimental neuroscience, entitled "From Neuron to Brain" - which he has adopted as his lab's name.