How Can We Regulate Brain Technology for Consumer Use:
The European Brain Council – a network of key players in the brain research area estimated the indirect cost of brain disorders at around 800 billion euros per year in Europe.
In the UK, there is a lack of standardised data to draw an accurate account of treatment frameworks necessary to address the full extent of the problem of ADHD within the NHS. The potential socioeconomic cost of undiagnosed adult ADHD in the UK rests in billions of pounds annually, with the majority of the economic loss stemming from the number of adults with ADHD in low wage employment or unemployed due to lack of support. In order to tackle this growing healthcare issue, it is necessary to provide sustainable frameworks for ADHD consultations, diagnosis, treatment, and life-long care.
Clinicians can look to innovative and noninvasive digital technologies to improve long-term cognitive and behavioural impairment treatment in an accessible and cost-effective manner. Crucially, there is a growing market for digital therapeutics. Various SMEs and global Tech-giants are offering alternative digital solutions to medication for the management of behavioural and cognitive impairments. The dive into digital medicine and therapeutics promises to deliver accessible, timely and relatively inexpensive care for neurological, cognitive and behavioural disorders and impairments.
Brain Technology to Solve Cognitive Impairments:
Earlier this year, the editors at the MIT Technology Review outlined the 10 Big Challenges Tech Could Solve, listing technology-led improvements for the environment, and healthcare solutions.Crucially, the article indicated that “brain decoding” would be a vital technological solution to help neuroscientists comprehend the puzzle of how “our brains store and communicate our thoughts and processes actions”. Technology can enable neuroscientists to unlock the complex processes of thought, behaviour, memory, movement coded into billions of neurons in our brains. We can gain crucial insight into the treatment pathways for mental and neurological impairments, such as schizophrenia, autism and ADHD.
The article emphasises that the recent developments of applications like games and wearables could facilitate advancements in the “brain decoding” process by way of “direct interfaces that communicate directly from our brains to digital devices or even other people”. This has the potential to be transformative and could improve the lives of individuals living with paralysis or degenerative disease. As the medical industry sees more advances in digital therapeutics, there needs to be changes in healthcare frameworks and regulations. Not only to monitor and evaluate the effects of disruptive healthcare technologies on the consumer, but also to enable technological advancements through high-scale investments and R&D partnerships in the biotech space. The focus on updates to healthcare frameworks and regulation are vital in the aim to improve patient outcomes by making the products accessible to consumers through lower costs of purchase and more product options.
Consumer-led Neurotechnology for Global Brain Enhancement:
According to the World Economic Forum, brain enhancement is not a luxury for the few; it is a must for the many. As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our biological, economic and physical worlds have merged increasingly with the digital, and technology has created a “new chapter in human development”. There is a growing demand in society for tools to increase brain power and productivity. The opportunity technology presents to enhance and transform our brains encompasses the area of neurological disorders, learning & cognitive disabilities, mental health problems, age-related cognitive decline and beyond. The article proposes that there are “7.2 billion human brains” that stand to benefit from brain enhancement that allows them to integrate into the new tech-led economic landscape and to live better, healthier, and longer lives in both developed and developing countries.
According to a market report conducted by Sharp Brains, the value of neurotechnology patent fillings was approx $2B in 2015 alone. Neurotech applications are becoming more “pervasive”, mainly because it is “non-invasive” – requiring neither ingestion nor surgery. Importantly, neurotechnology applications often feature a range of brain-enhancement mobile tool-kits enhanced by bio/neurofeedback, EEG, AI, AR, all aiming to provide platforms to harness our brain’s neuroplasticity. Not only is neurotechnology striving to enhance the human brain but also transforming other industries, from healthcare, entertainment, education, sport and well-being. There is no doubt that brain enhancing technology is quickly evolving beyond hospitals or research facilities into multiple industrial and consumer markets, to improve, regulate and augment our lifestyles.
Taking Control of New Pervasive Technology:
A growing concern within the public and private realm remains the challenge of ensuring that new technologies are developed and marketed under ethical frameworks, non-exploitative and safe for users. So how do we regulate the neurotechnologies that will eventually be integral to the function of our lives and societies? One organisation readily taking on this challenge is The FDA, as early as 2008, the group raced to establish a new unit dedicated strictly to digital health regulation for a future in which healthcare is increasingly mediated by machines. According to a Sharp Brains article, the FDA Policy Advisor Bakel Patel aims to re-imagine the path [digital health] machines will take to regulatory approval.
The World Economic Forum have also convened a Global Council on the Future of Human Enhancement, focusing on developing a “framework to evaluate new technologies – to ensure these are ethically acceptable to society, and that ‘human enhancing’ technologies improve not only the individual, but also the broader community well-being.” For those of us who are more pessimistic or sceptical about the ethical implications of the future of pervasive neurotechnologies, it is comforting to note that there’s already an active international community of experts addressing neuroethics. Major institutions such as the National Science Foundation, The U.S. Brain Initiative and The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have hit the ground running in the area of neuroethics, organising workshops to facilitate expert discussions on the ethics of brain technologies.
While large scientific institutions and governments are already taking steps to preempt and prevent the ethical and sociopolitical risks of pervasive brain tech, how do we, as individuals, manage the integration of new brain technologies in our daily lives? It is necessary to have a wide range of experts and professionals such as doctors, HR professionals and educators who can provide valuable guidance and education to end users to further minimise risk and misuse of brain enhancing applications. That is why Cortechs publishes industry-led content to share insights on cognitive impairment technology solutions with the public, healthcare professional and private stakeholders.
Cortechs has created CereBrill platform to enable clinicians to create and monitor their patients ADHD treatment plans digitally. The CereBrill platform is non-invasive and can be accessed by the user via any smart device. Our data driven platform generates accurate ‘focus reports’ so you can track your progress and engage with your healthcare provider. CereBrill platform is backed by neurofeedback technology, that monitors your brain-waves via Bluetooth headsets while you play our personalised games. CereBrill game applications rewards you when you focus on the game, motivating you to pay more attention. In addition, CereBrill Attention Widget and Smartwatch Reminder Applications will help you increase your focus levels and productivity long term. For more information on our company and fun neurofeedback games for kids visit us online at Cortechs.ie