* * My largest criticism of Lynch’s book is his reliance on interventions to be applied top-down TO the human nervous system, having a single reference toMessage 1 of 1 , Oct 19, 2009View Source
My largest criticism of Lynch’s book is his reliance on interventions to be applied top-down TO the human nervous system, having a single reference to bottom-up approaches that reside in and are manifested by and through the individual’s inherent transformational availability or effort.
Lynch’s stance is understandable from his position as founder of the Neurotechnology Industry Association, a trade association for companies involved in the neurotechnology revolution, and originator of the NERV, an index of neurotechnology companies that is traded on the NASDAQ. He can be followed at: www.neuroinsights.com.
What the book does bring is Lynch’s predictions of how emerging neurotechnologies will affect various aspects of our lives within such disciplines as: as law, politics, education, marketing, finance, art, religion, relationships, and war, each with a chapter. He attempts to educate the lay reader with his anecdotal investigations, products in development, and guesses about where the future lies. He is aglow with possibilities that verge of hyperbole, such as over-reliance on fMRI to answer questions about brain function to prove concepts. Nonetheless, I found the scope of his investigations pretty comprehensive and I would recommend it as a view of possible futures and work in progress. This perspective is particularly valuable as an outline of the context within which neurofeedback resides.
Neurofeedback gets referenced only obliquely in the book and is without any real representation. Lynch comes closest to what we do in his discussion where he defines “neuroenablement” that
“…implies lifting ‘the bottom up’ and addresses issues of fairness and social inequity. ‘Neuroenablement’ seems to me to be a term that empowers people: It connotes the idea that people will begin leveraging better tools for mental health to bring themselves where they most want to be regarding emotional, cognitive, and sensory capacities, to a more optimal point along the normal distribution range.” [He distinguishes: ] “When I hear people use ‘[neuro]enhancement’ I get the feeling that they’re thinking some superhuman state. In that sense, most neurotechnologies in development that will become available over the next decade do not qualify.” (p.191)
While this juxtaposition saves Lynch in my estimation, he both names what we do (bottom up), and cites it as the basis for “many of today’s emerging technologies” yet seems oblivious to our already having done it for decades. He then goes on to promote many of the industry’s nascent products.
From within our field, the perspective is clear and simple. We already have the answer – at least for the next decade he specifies. However such a perspective would mess up quite a few of the “entrain and migrate” products now under development to be marketed as “neuroenhancements.” Neurofeedback as a “disruptive technology” has been almost completely unappreciated.
The neurotechnologies industry is already by no means trivial, with the 24 companies listed in the NERV Index as of October 2008, each has at least a $ 200 million market capitalization, average daily trading volume of 100,000 shares, and a share price above $3.00. On the other hand, the proliferation of all these medications, devices, and technologies only advances neurofeedback as a non-invasive, bottom up, technology accessible to anyone, literally, with a brain. Nothing is completely black or white here in that the products or interventions are on a continuum from drilling down into the brain to seat electrodes, to pharmacologic, to radio wave bombardment, to sensory based entrainment strategies to alter brain function. A great deal of money is being invested to bring these products to fruition.
Lynch this weekend put online a publically accessible 100 page overview of the neurotechnology field from the focus of geographic centers of activity. He usually sells these for a high price to those outside the Neurotechnology Industry Organization. It has a great deal of information should you wish to delve into it:
While very few of these are yet to market, we might consider where neurofeedback is in relation. One data point is the 1.2 million accumulated Zengar sessions from which the Zengar survey results were derived, a study concluded just less than a year ago. Add to this the tens of millions of other neurofeedback sessions provided to date with negligible risk rates, particularly in comparison to the pharma industry, and you have a field already larger than all that Lynch proposes in his book, but not even mentioned. While we can derive some comfort from sailing beneath the radar of these startups, how might the expenditure of the billions in development costs be better allocated if done from the standpoint of each nervous system as its own best optimization vehicle to get a first vote in the direction of advancing its own evolutionary trajectories before being submitted to the constraints of productized brain candy? Faced with the onslaught of what’s in the pipeline, voluntary, self evoking neurofeedback strategies will appeal to many before, or as a prelude to, designer neurology or other neurotech interventions imposed from the outside. Achievement of this natural market position is a problem for our field to address and an opportunity that will expand along with the neurotechnologies industry.
A fast read of The Neuro Revolution will give a perspective of the large field within which we have an already commanding, if unnoticed, lead.