Non-Invasive Neuro-Enhancement

Digitization is a process that generates a huge amount of data that cannot be analyzed in real-time by human users. This context has led to the accelerated development of solutions that process and analyze a huge volume of data that bears the generic name of “cognitive solutions”.

To respond rapidly to the urgent need to collect relevant data and information from an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment, as characterized by the current economy, leaders need to build fast and efficient work systems.

For leaders to remain relevant, efficient and to keep up with an environment that contains a large volume of information, while the field of Artificial Intelligence develops, it needs to enhance his cognitive abilities through optimization, stimulation and/or augmentation. Among these three methods, the one that represents the subject of this section is augmentation.

What is Cognitive Augmentation?

Augmentation implies enhancing the cognitive abilities within while optimizing and stimulating the factors of intervention. For optimization, intervention can be done through pharmacological means such as nootropic drugs or smart drugs. Stimulation can be obtained through neuro-technology: electrical and magnetic transcranial stimulation. Another way to classify brain stimulation methods is to divide them into two broad categories: invasive methods and non-invasive methods. Invasive methods involve direct brain intervention such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and has been used for learning enhancement (Clark & Parasuraman, 2014; Suthana & Fried, 2014). The most popular non-invasive brain-stimulation technologies are transcranial electrical stimulation (TES), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and focused ultrasound (FUS). While the three of them – optimization, stimulation, augmentation – are means of brain enhancement, augmentation is non-invasive, risk-free and it is the only one that is based on neuroplasticity – which means the ability of the brain to learn new things.

Pleasure, Learning and Motivation

Many recent research (Edmonds & Tenenbaum, 2012) has led to amazing understandings about the relationship between pleasure, learning and motivation in the brain. It is now known that there is a center of pleasure in the medial part of the prefrontal cortex, right in the middle of the forehead, a part that is involved in the process of focus attention, alertness, learning and that motivates us to go forward.

Pleasure and happiness are the basic motivators for our lives. We want to expand happiness and pleasure develops momentum. We learn to associate many types of events with these feelings. Living in a sense of happiness, we change our vision of life, the reaction to events and situations, our memory, our learning and our general well-being. When we are happy, we connect much more easily to others. As we know, the maintenance of positive emotions stimulates health while maintenance of the negative benefits of the disease.

Neurofeedback

Mental training is based on biofeedback – it is a method that uses the mind to control a function of the body that is normally regulated automatically, such as body temperature, heart rate, happiness and pleasure etc. to increase the production of high-frequency (gamma) brainwaves from the medial part of the prefrontal cortex. In short, people can teach their brains how to raise their attention, alertness happiness and other positive feelings that are associated with the production of chemicals (endorphins and dopamine).

Based on a device that measures the frequency of brain waves and software that interprets this information, we can tell when the brain (based on the fact that certain activities and certain states are associated with certain types of waves) is concentrated when it secretes dopamine when it is happy and other. This type of training is called neurofeedback.

Ethics

Advances in neuroscience and the development of neurotechnologies have progressively raised new and unique ethical issues (“neuroethics”), in addition to the more traditional aspects related to human participation in research studies.

The most important ethical issues are related to:

  • Mind Reading and Privacy;
  • Agency, Responsibility and Liability;
  • Safety and Invasiveness of Brain Enhancement;
  • Society.

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