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A call to action: We need the right incentives to guide ethical innovation in neurotech and healthcare

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Ana Maiques, CEO and founder of neu­rotech com­pa­ny Neu­ro­electrics, writes up a com­pelling case in her recent arti­cle, sum­ma­rized thus:

I strong­ly believe that Neu­rotech entre­pre­neurs can not afford not to be involved in neu­roethics. It is sim­ply not an option any­more.”

I share that belief and would like to take it one step fur­ther:

I strong­ly believe that health­care prac­ti­tion­ers, researchers, exec­u­tives and reg­u­la­tors can not afford not to be involved in neu­roethics. It is sim­ply not an option any­more.”

Hav­ing spent 10+ years track­ing and ana­lyz­ing the grow­ing indus­try of dig­i­tal brain/ men­tal health and non-inva­sive neu­rotech­nolo­gies, let me share why I believe so, and why we will need to set incen­tives right.

Time­ly con­ver­sa­tion to have

Only ten years ago, neu­rotech large­ly remained the domain of research cen­ters and high-end med­ical cen­ters. Today, the indus­try is touch­ing mil­lions of prac­ti­tion­ers, patients and con­sumers world­wide, thanks to an explo­sion of low-cost, non-inva­sive and emi­nent­ly scal­able tech­nolo­gies that can be used to assess and/ or to improve brain and men­tal health.

At the recent 2019 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit, which I helped pro­duce from May 7th to the 9th, Dr. Tom Insel –for­mer Direc­tor of the Nation­al Insti­tute for Men­tal Health (NIMH) turned Google exec­u­tive turned entre­pre­neur– sur­veyed the ongo­ing rev­o­lu­tion in dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers and ther­a­peu­tics and why it mat­ters: While brain/ men­tal health­care has failed so far behind oth­er areas of health, prob­a­bly due to the old axiom “you can’t man­age what you can’t mea­sure”, emerg­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing tech­nolo­gies can allow us to rem­e­dy that and help us iden­ti­fy prob­lems ear­ly and inter­vene ear­ly.

Mul­ti­ple oth­er speak­ers dur­ing the Sum­mit built upon Insel’s remarks shar­ing research, tech and exam­ples. Start-up Sana Health won the 2019 Brain­no­va­tions Pitch Con­test by pre­sent­ing a nov­el com­bi­na­tion of audio-visu­al stim­u­la­tion and neu­ro­feed­back train­ing to help alle­vi­ate chron­ic pain, while entre­pre­neurs, investors and researchers described the grow­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and risks brought for­ward by dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics and neu­ro­mod­u­la­tion – the lat­ter tech­nol­o­gy class, as described by Maiques in her piece, deserves sig­nif­i­cant atten­tion as it could mean a non-inva­sive, non-phar­ma­co­log­ic treat­ment for a vari­ety of con­di­tions.

Antic­i­pat­ing risks, researchers Dr. Anna Wexler and Dr. Karen Rom­melfanger joined indus­try insid­er Jacque­line Stud­er on a fas­ci­nat­ing ses­sion about pri­va­cy and ethics, help­ing iden­ti­fy eth­i­cal prob­lems and poten­tial solu­tions. »Keep read­ing com­men­tary To Be Involved in Neu­roethics: A Must for Entre­pre­neurs and for Health­care as a Whole (requires sub­scrip­tion to AJOB Neu­ro­science or pur­chase)

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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