Concerns in the Blurred Divisions between Medical and Consumer Neurotechnology

Andrew Y. Paek, Justin A. Brantley, Barbara J. Evans, Jose L. Contreras-Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Neurotechnology has traditionally been central to the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. While these devices have initially been utilized in clinical and research settings, recent advancements in neurotechnology have yielded devices that are more portable, user friendly, and less expensive. These improvements allow laypeople to monitor their brain waves and interface their brains with external devices. Such improvements have led to the rise of wearable neurotechnology that is marketed to the consumer. While many of the consumer devices are marketed for innocuous applications, such as use in video games, there is potential for them to be repurposed for medical uses. How do we manage neurotechnologies that skirt the line between medical and consumer applications and what can be done to ensure consumer safety? Here, we characterize neurotechnology based on medical and consumer applications and summarize currently marketed uses of consumer-grade wearable headsets. We lay out concerns that may arise due to the similar claims associated with both medical and consumer devices, the possibility of consumer devices being repurposed for medical uses, and the potential for medical uses of neurotechnology to influence commercial markets related to employment and self-enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9298858
Pages (from-to)3069-3080
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Systems Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • consumer products
  • data privacy
  • ethics
  • law
  • medical diagnosis
  • neural prosthesis
  • neurofeedback
  • patient rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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