Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

Duke News

Keep up with our core and affiliated faculty in the national and international news. Read their op-ed pieces, quotes and interviews, and cutting-edge research findings.

Wed, Jul 17

2018-2019 Bass Connections Project Review: Building an EEG Lab and Gathering Consumer Opinion On Brain Privacy

Our 2018-2019 Bass Connections project team was the most productive collaboration yet. During this time, we trained a new group of undergraduate and graduate students in the process of properly conducting an electroencephalograph (EEG) study, and how to design, collect, and analyze behavioral data from an online participant pool.

Dr. William Krenzer and two lab particpants posing in front of their poster during the 2018 Bass Connections Poster Session

Members of the Bass Connections project team present their data at the 2019 Spring Showcase

Our team began the year investigating the extent to which consumer-based EEG devices can accurately detect fluctuations in attentional and emotional states. Despite early skepticism, initial data gathered shows support for the potential long-term experimental use of these devices. This innovative technique for collecting neurological information will greatly help the project moving forward.

A concurrent study looked into brain data privacy. Students created a questionnaire, collected responses, and analyzed data to further understand the public’s view of their brain information and 3rd party access to their data. The project team drafted the results for a manuscript and prepared the findings in a poster for presentation during the 2019 Spring Bass Connections showcase. The team also hopes to present the data at this year’s International Neuroethics Society annual conference in Chicago this fall.

Dr. William Krenzer’s leadership in organizing the hands-on experience of running participants through the experiment was the highlight of the project.

“Any student that gets to learn from his experiences and through a project run by him should consider themselves wildly lucky,” said one student in an anonymous survey. “I can’t emphasize enough how much he meant to myself and the rest of the program.”

Naturally, such vertically integrated teams see many participants graduating at the end of the year. However, we are very excited for the handful of students who will be continuing with the project during the new academic year. Their experience will provide valuable mentorship opportunity as new students join the team this fall.

We expect our 2019-2020 team’s progress to surpass this year’s as we continue to collect EEG data via these consumer-based devices, with hopes of furthering our understanding of the neurological processes associated with attention and emotion. We anticipate continued commercial growth of this technology and will continue building on our understanding of individual views of brain data privacy and the potential issues that can arise from widespread use.


Dr. William Krenzer, SLAP Lab, Bass Connections

William KrenzerWilliam Krenzer is a Postdoctoral Associate in Science and Society, specifically working in the Science, Law, and Policy (SLAP) Lab. His research within SLAP Lab broadly explores how neuroscience (e.g., EEG) can be used to understand, or better explain, common practices within law.

Sun, Apr 28

Blame my brain: A killer’s bold defense gets a court hearing

More criminal defendants are turning to brain science to argue that they shouldn’t face harsh punishment.

Thu, Apr 18

Scientists Partly Restore Activity in Dead-Pig Brains. Now what?

The brain, supposedly, cannot long survive without blood. Within seconds, oxygen supplies deplete, electrical activity fades, and unconsciousness sets in. If blood flow is not restored, within minutes, neurons start to die in a rapid, irreversible, and ultimately fatal wave.

Wed, Apr 17

Part-revived pig brains raise slew of ethical quandaries

Researchers need guidance on animal use and the many issues opened up by a new study on whole-brain restoration, argue Nita A. Farahany, Henry T. Greely and Charles M. Giattino.

Mon, Mar 25

Duke University Collaborates for Blockchain Lab, Education Program

Duke University is teaming up with blockchain startup Citizens Reserve on an educational initiative aimed to develop students’ interest in blockchain technology.

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