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Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00013

Neurotechnologies for Human Cognitive Augmentation: Current State of the Art and Future Prospects.

 Caterina Cinel1,  Davide Valeriani2 and Riccardo Poli1*
  • 1University of Essex, United Kingdom
  • 2Harvard Medical School, United States

Recent advances in neuroscience have paved the way to innovative applications that cognitively
augment and enhance humans in a variety of contexts. This paper aims at providing a snapshot
of the current state of the art and a motivated forecast of the most likely developments in the next
two decades.
Firstly, we survey the main neuroscience technologies for both observing and influencing brain
activity, which are necessary ingredients for human cognitive augmentation. We also compare
and contrast such technologies, as their individual characteristics (e.g., spatio-temporal resolution,
invasiveness, portability, energy requirements and cost) influence their current and future role in
human cognitive augmentation.
Secondly, we chart the state of the art on neurotechnologies for human cognitive augmentation,
keeping an eye both on the applications that already exist and those that are emerging or are
likely to emerge in the next two decades. Particularly, we consider applications in the areas of
communication, cognitive enhancement, memory, attention monitoring/enhancement, situation
awareness and complex problem solving, and we look at what fraction of the population might
benefit from such technologies and at the demands they impose in terms of user training.
Thirdly, we briefly review the ethical issues associated with current neuroscience technologies.
These are important because they may differentially influence both present and future research
on (and adoption of) neurotechnologies for human cognitive augmentation: an inferior technology
with no significant ethical issues may thrive while a superior technology causing widespread
ethical concerns may end up being outlawed.
Finally, based on the lessons learned in our analysis, using past trends and considering other
related forecasts, we attempt to forecast the most likely future developments of neuroscience
technology for human cognitive augmentation and provide informed recommendations for
promising future research and exploitation avenues.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Cognitive augmentation, brain- computer interface (BCI), Neurotechnologies, neuroethical issues, neuroergonomics

Received: 15 Oct 2018; Accepted: 10 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Hasan Ayaz, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, United States

Reviewed by:

Ioan Opris, University of Miami, United States
Marom Bikson, City College of New York (CUNY), United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Cinel, Valeriani and Poli. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Riccardo Poli, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom, rpoli@essex.ac.uk