Kunal Sarkar: Bettering Your Brain

Kunal Sarkar graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a certificate in Finance from Princeton University in 2000.

He began his career with the Walt Disney Company, doing strategic planning and development. From there, Sarkar became the vice president of  McCown De Leeuw and Co., a billion dollar private equity fund that focused on making growth equity investments. Arkar then went on to co-found American Infrastructure Master Limited Partnership Funds (AIMLP), a private equity fund that manages investments in infrastructure and natural resources.

Since 2006, Sarkar has been the CEO of Lumos Labs, the research center behind Lumosity, which he co-founded. Lumosity is the wildly popular, critically acclaimed brain performance enhancer, that has grown to over 40 million users. It uses games and training exercises created by neuroscientists to improve memory, attention, and problem solving. Users create a profile choosing particular aspects that they would like to strengthen and Lumosity creates a personalized daily brain work out aimed at improving core cognitive functions.

Users report better memory, quicker hand eye coordination, improved focus, and easier multitasking after using Lumosity. A 2013 peer-reviewed study from Stanford University shows that Lumosity training can improve the brain’s executive functions, which are a key driver of everyday quality of life. Dr. Shelli Kesler tested women who trained with Lumosity for 12 weeks against a control group, revealing significant improvement in working memory, verbal fluency, processing speed, and cognitive flexibility of the women who used Lumosity versus those that did not.

This is just one of many studies related to Lumosity. The research behind Lumosity has formed into the Human Cognition Project, a collaboration of researchers that mine the data Lumosity gathers about its users and the way their brains react, function, and improve. Lumosity is now the largest and fastest growing database on human cognition and the research it generates gives insight to our understanding of the brain as well as improvements of Lumosity’s training.

Hear about the research and developments of Lumosity from Sarkar himself at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at the Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute in La Jolla, California. For more information on registration and speakers, like Sarkar, visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.

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Dr. Ralph J. Greenspan, Between Behavior and Neurobiology

ralph-greenspanDr. Ralph J. Greenspan began studying the genetic and neurological aspects of behavior in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) when he was a graduate student at Brandeis University. There, he worked with Jeffery Hall one of the field’s founders and has continued in this analysis of the genetic and neurobiological role in the fly’s innate and learned behaviors.

In his studies of fruit flies, he has determined that fruit flies have a sleep like state similar to the way mammals sleep. Watch this video as he explains what can be determined about the necessity and purpose of sleep.

Greenspan is determined in his continued study of the nervous system and its correlation with behavior, as he believes there may be a unifying principle for the operation of biological networks that applies to wide varieties of neurobiology, perhaps even that of humans.

Greenspan is now the associate director of the Kavli Institute for Mind and Brain at UC San Diego, where he was recently named founding director of the new Center for Brain Activity Mapping. The center, created as a direct response to President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, plans to map the brain down to the resolution level of single cells and the timescale of a millisecond.

The research done at the Center for Brain Activity Mapping will study disorders such as autism and alzheimer’s and will hopefully one day lead to treatments and cures.

Hear Greenspan discuss the latest work of the Center of Brain Activity Mapping at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute (formerly known as Calit2) in La Jolla, California. For more information on registration, visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.

Roni Zeiger: Making Smart Patients Smarter

Roni Zeiger received his M.D. from Stanford University and completed his residency at UC San Francisco. He has written several medical text books and taught as a clinical instructor of medicine at Stanford University, while earning his Master’s degree in biomedical informatics from Stanford.

Zeiger created a tool called Diagnosaurus that helps doctors remember potential diagnoses for particular symptoms. It has now been created into a smartphone app used by over 100,000 doctors and medical students.

Zeiger was the Chief Health Strategist at Google, where he was responsible for items such as Google Flu Trends and Symptom Search, where Google uses algorithms to find health conditions related to symptom queries searched in their engine.

His familiarity with searching the web for health issues, ranging from support groups to clinical trials, has led him to team up with Gilles Frydman to found Smart Patients. A few months ago Smart Patients became available to the public, inviting cancer patients and care givers to join the support network to find and discuss clinical trials and other treatments. With this website, Zeiger is bringing together the disparate community of people who have become cancer experts from their close experience with the disease. Smart Patients capitalizes on the collective knowledge of individuals with the hope of improving the quality of caner patients’ lives, while making it easier to find relative information on clinical trials and rare aspects of the disease.

Zeiger is currently the CEO of Smart Patients, as well as a part time Community Staff Physician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Hear him explain his idea for the intersection of social media and health care, in this TEDMED video explaining Smart Patients.

Or, hear him discuss his latest work for yourself at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, presented by UC San Diego Extension and the Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at the Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute in La Jolla, California.

For more information on registration, please visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.

Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream

Chopra’s newest book, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, revisits the topic of immigration and details his experience behind why he wrote the letter to the Boston Globe decades ago. This book, released only a few weeks ago, could not have been planned more timely with the heated debate over the immigration bill recently passed in the senate.

This story, co-authored by his brother Sanjiv, is the tale of two Indian doctors who have come to the U.S.to live out the American dream, during the Vietnam war when there was a doctor shortage. Watch this preview of their tale.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gbCRAcG4uQ

In a time such as now, with the country fiercely divided on immigration issues, the Chopra brothers reveal their experience as immigrants and their journey of making America their new home. They explain that an alienation from one’s home country must take place before assimilation can be achieved. In empathizing with the story of two immigrant doctors, readers can better understand the difficulties faced by the illegal migrant workers from Mexico and their hopes of pursuing that same American dream.

DEEPAK CHOPRA

Deepak Chopra’s life story is a brotherly tale.

Hear the two brothers discuss their book on PBS.

To read an article from Deepak about how this book relates to current immigration issues, click here.

Deepak will be speaking at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2 through 4 at Scripps Seaside Forum and Calit2, now known as the Qualcomm Institute in La Jolla, California. For more information on speakers and registration, please visit atlanticmeetspacific.com

The Latest Buzz in Self Quantifying

This morning, KPBS reporter Angela Carone unveiled the latest device from UC San Diego’s Calit2, now known as the Qualcomm Institute, invented by the director of the institute, Ramesh Rao.

This new self quantifying system of machines is called the Bliss Buzzer and is worn to measure heart rate in order to determine when the user is optimally relaxed, at which point it gives the wearer a small vibration, or buzz.

Just like a pedometer that measures one’s steps, the Bliss Buzzer is a training device, intended to make people more aware of the subtle functioning of their own body.

Rao created the device with the intention of showing people when they are really relaxed, hoping that with this knowledge they will strive to create more restful moments through out the day. Carone describes the buzz as an inaudible, enjoyable tingling, that could unknowingly trigger the user to want to have more buzzes and therefore, more restful moments.

“You can get hooked on the buzz without knowing that you’re doing it,” Rao tells KPBS. “And so to the extent that we are associating it with healthful states, that’s a good entrainment. It teaches you.”

But the absence of the buzz can also indicate something. Wearers could notice they haven’t buzzed in a while and realize they should take a moment to remove stress.

Rao said he was driven to create the Bliss Buzzer when he began self quantifying five years ago, a craze popularized by Calit2’s founding director, Larry Smarr. Like Smarr, Rao noticed his lifestyle heading in an unhealthy direction and he decided to track the changes as he altered his diet, began exercising and has become devoted to yoga.

In this video, catch a glimpse inside the Qualcomm Institute, as Rao and Smarr discuss the institute’s accomplishments on it’s tenth anniversary.

Or, get a look inside the Qualcomm Institute yourself at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, presented by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. Also hear from the self quantifying expert, Larry Smarr, at the conference, held on October 2 through 4 at the Qualcomm Institute and the Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla, California.

Please visit atlanticmeetspacific.com for registration and more information.

Erica Huggins, Production Pro

Erica Huggins graduated with a double major in Anthropology and Documentary Film from Hampshire College. She then spent a year in China and Japan, teaching at Kobe College before she came back to the U.S. to work as a film editor.

She got hired by Interscope Communications, the predecessor of Radar Pictures, when they were looking to add some new, unconventional input to their production process. She landed the job of in-house producer thanks to her editing credits on films like John Waters’ Hairspray and Crybaby.

Huggins worked at Interscope Communications and Radar Pictures for over a decade producing movies including How to Deal, Gridlock’d, and What Dreams May Come which won an Oscar for visual effects.

She then moved on to become the co-president of production at Imagine Entertainment, where she oversees the production of films like Flightplan and J. Edgar as well as brings writers, directors, and ideas together to make a film.

She has many projects in the works right now, such as a movie with Will Smith and The Dark Tower, a film based on the Stephen King novels of the same name.

Watch this trailer of her upcoming film Rush, based on the real life rivalry of formula one racers, Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Huggins will be speaking at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, presented by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will be held on October 2-4 at the Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute (formerly known as Calit2) in La Jolla, California.

For more information on registration, visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.

Mick Ebeling and the Not Impossible

Mick Ebeling graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in political science in 1992. He worked for FUEL, a motion design studio, and became the CEO of THEY, a cross design platform, before he started his own company and organization.

In 2001, he formed The Ebeling Group, a production company specializing in animation and visual effects. With this company Ebeling was involved in the production of films including, “Stranger than Fiction” starring Will Ferrell, “Kite Runner,” and the James Bond 007 film “Quantum of Solace.”

Ebeling has also founded the Not Impossible Foundation, a nonprofit with the intent to foster the collaboration of ideas and people “dedicated to creating low cost, DIY open-source solutions for real people with real needs.”

The Not Impossible Foundation’s first project began when Ebeling befriended Tempt One, a famous graffiti artist in Los Angeles, diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This paralyzed his entire body, leaving Tempt to communicate only through movement of his eyes.

Ebeling brought together people from Graffiti Research Lab, Free Art and Technology Lab, and openFrameworks to construct a way for Tempt to create his art once again. And on April 10, 2009 Tempt wrote his first piece of graffiti in seven years using the EyeWriter.

Watch Ebeling explain the EyeWriter himself in this TED talk:

The EyeWriter was one of “Time Magazine”’s 50 Best Inventions in 2010. The attention garnered by the EyeWriter gave Ebeling the platform to promote the idea behind the device and the Not Impossible Foundation, that through collaboration and creativity people can accomplish seemingly impossible tasks to drastically improve the lives of others.

In regards to the creation of the EyeWriter, Ebeling is famously quoted saying, “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?”

Don’t miss Ebeling at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, hosted by UC San Diego Extension and The Atlantic Magazine. The conference will take place on October 2 through 4 at Scripps Seaside Forum and the Qualcomm Institute (formerly known as Calit2) in La Jolla, California. For more information on registration and speakers like Ebeling, visit atlanticmeetspacific.com.