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Study: Few wearable neurotechnologies have been directly tested by high-quality, peer-reviewed research


Wear­able brain devices sold with ques­tion­able claims (Com­put­er World):

Wear­able ‘neu­rotech­nol­o­gy’ devices have in recent years hit the main­stream mar­ket; pitched to con­sumers as a way to improve mem­o­ry and atten­tion, boost brain fit­ness and con­trol games and objects with the pow­er of the mind.

An analy­sis of com­mer­cial­ly avail­able wear­able ‘neu­rode­vices’ pub­lished this week in jour­nal Neu­ron has cast doubt on whether their mak­ers can back up such claims.

A team of researchers at Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia in Van­cou­ver iden­ti­fied 41 devices for sale, of which 22 were record­ing devices and 19 stim­u­lat­ing devices … For 33 of the 41 devices the mak­ers linked to research or resources that fur­ther explained the claim, but for only eight devices was this rel­e­vant peer-reviewed research. The remain­der typ­i­cal linked to a paper cov­er­ing the sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts behind EEG devices in gen­er­al, rather than the one being sold.

Illes and her team also expressed fears about the use of data from devices able to read brain activ­i­ty.

How are these data used, and who has access to them? These are things we don’t know. We should be ask­ing these ques­tions,” she said.

The Study:

Own­ing Eth­i­cal Inno­va­tion: Claims about Com­mer­cial Wear­able Brain Tech­nolo­gies. (opens PDF)

  • Abstract: The wear­able neu­rotech­nol­o­gy mar­ket tar­gets con­sumers with promis­es of cog­ni­tive ben­e­fit and per­son­al well­ness. Sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence is essen­tial to sub­stan­ti­ate claims about util­i­ty, safe­ty, and effi­ca­cy and for informed choice and pub­lic trust.

The Study in Context:

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