Trends in Neurotechnology

Just like every field of human endeavor, advancements tend to raise mixed emotions among people. Will this new advancement help us do things better? Does it have accompanying challenges? How soon will people adopt it? These and many more are the questions that plague the mind of people in the wake of something new. With neurotechnology, it is not different.

There have been recent studies employing neuroimaging which have focused on cortical and subcortical signals individually to obtain neurophysiological signatures of cognitive functions. However, understanding the dynamic communication between the cortex and subcortical structures is essential for unraveling the neural correlates of cognition. In this quest, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) are the methods of choice because they are noninvasive neurophysiological recording techniques with high temporal resolution.

Sophisticated MEG/EEG source estimation techniques and network analysis methods, developed recently, can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms of fundamental cognitive processes. Used together with noninvasive modulation of cortical-subcortical communication, these approaches open us new possibilities for expanding the repertoire of noninvasive cognitive neurotechnology.

Rapid advances in neuroscience, clinical imaging, digital health and the Internet of Things are propelling neurotechnology from the exclusive domain of the medical clinic to the ever-increasing number of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) applications. Today, numerous neuromodulatory devices and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are becoming available to consumers, with associated accessories, mobile applications, software frameworks and online services.

DTC headsets allow individuals to engage in various activities without medical supervision, such as monitoring cognitive health and well-being, optimizing brain fitness and performance, or playing virtual games. Companies such as Neurosky and Emotiv Systems offer assortment of smartphone-compatible DTC neurodevices; large electronics and social media companies such as Samsung (Seoul) and Facebook are testing future products controlled via electroencephalograghy (EEG)-detected brain signals. If mega corporations like Facebook have seen the future of neurotech and investing in that direction, we can then say that neurotech is no longer a joke or science fiction as some think that it is. As Alon Braun would say, Anyone who wants to venture into neurotech and agetech either as an investor or entrepreneur, has no better time to do it than now.”


(Alon Braun – Founder of

In education, neurotech has been found to have significant implications. As ‘postdigital’ hybrids of biological and informational codes, novel neurotechnologies combine neuroscience insights into the human brain with advanced technical development in brain imaging, brain-computer interfaces, neurofeedback platforms, brain stimulation and other neuroenhancement applications. Merging neurobiological knowledge about human life with computational technologies, neurotechnology exemplifies how postdigital science will play a significant role in societies and education in decades to come. They also present potentials for businesses and governments to enact new techniques of ‘neurogovernance’ by ‘scanning’ the brain, ‘scrapping’ it for data and then ‘sculpting’ the brain toward particular capacities.

We cannot ignore the fact that neurotech, just like every other cutting edge advancement, is already raising some ethical, legal and social issues that are not confined to the academic world but that are also part of public discourse. There are questions on the use of neuroscientific techniques and novel neurotechnologies that are generated as we learn more about the brain and its relations to consciousness, emotion, behavior and the nature of self and relation to others.

Will neurotechnology be used to advance humanity or will it ultimately push humanity towards some new and perhaps unanticipated reality? Just like all other advancements, neurotech certainly will find a way to jump and leap through all these seeming hurdles and still make the impact that it is designed to make.

While neurotech may not be an entirely new field, its use and adoption is not overly widespread yet especially in the developing and underdeveloped world. The onus lies with  inventors, investors, marketers and everyone who is involved in the business of neurotech to get the information out there for people to grasp. This will enhance use and adoption of the technology and at the same time, mean more profit for all stakeholders.

According to Alon Braun, “Companies in the health tech sectors must not ignore careful analysis and management of their marketing situation so as to improve their strategies on systems, fundraising, marketing and sales of their products. They must learn how to be innovative and possess astute ability to embrace change. They are in the best position to make decisions that will either make or mar their businesses.”

While these technological devices appear cheap and affordable to some people, there is no gainsaying that it will still be very expensive to some. These businesses will have to deal with ‘low profit and high sales’ or ‘high profit and low sales’. They have to decide on the market penetration approach that will work better for them too. These and many more decisions are some hurdles facing businesses in the health tech sector.

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