The science´s enviorment also drawing attention to the importance of making neuroscience approachable to citizens and their daily lives
Researchers, scientists, doctors, technologists and, overall, experts in the field, can use that information in their scientific studies and their labs to obtain an even deeper knowledge of the brain. They are also drawing attention to the importance of making neuroscience approachable to citizens and their daily lives.
Taking neuroscience out of the lab and into society can contribute new, valuable information on brain functioning in a more realistic setting and also help us find more useful applications for this science.
We will now talk about how to make neuroscience accessible on a daily basis.
Neuroscience devices compile large-scale recordings of brain activity. Our FTF experts state that these recordings can be used in the lab, but we need to get users involved as well so that data has many more functionalities.
Among the ultimate goals in the use of these devices we can find:
- Monitoring brain performance
- Preventing and detecting for early diagnosis of disorders
- Tracking pathologies’ progression and treatment.
During the FTF meeting, our expert Ricardo Gil da Costa explained in detail how the device that his company developed works. This device is called Brain Station and it can do a wireless electroencephalography and predict an upcoming migraine 24 hours in advance.
Some of the main challenges we face when developing these devices are:
- Placement. So far, tracking different mental processes requires different placements. Ideally, we will create devices to monitor the full brain while leaving the smallest mark.
- Privacy. Data obtained from tracking brain activity needs the strictest protection since these devices compile data that could be used in a positive way (to treat pathologies). However, that data could also be used with commercial purposes, to manage human resources, or simply misuse them.
Our expert Amanda Pustilnik tells us about the right processing of our data and concludes that we need to implement regulation to protect citizens and give them more decision-making power.
- Neuroscience and neurotechnology regulation. It is essential in order to ensure that citizens trust the field and technology more. Regulation is also key to ensuring that they’re properly implemented. Our expert Roland Pochet explains how the European Union is addressing this issue.
AplApplications in Society
By studying the brain, we continue to discover potential applications of neuroscience for our daily lives and different sectors of society. We will now talk about the most advanced approaches:
Neuroscience allows us to understand how the brain analyzes information, learns to adapt to changes and draws conclusions. This is useful in the optimization of learning processes in the classroom.
Our expert David Bueno talks about developments in the field of neuroeducation.
Some of the most useful neuroscience takeaways for education professionals are:
- The functions of each part of the brain and how they mature overtime. If we understand which areas and regions of the brain are maturing at each stage, we can take advantage of that to provide the students with the best possible education.
- How emotions are crucial to learn. It has been scientifically proven that the brain needs to get excited in order to learn. When it does, it tends to process data from the right hemisphere, which is related to intuition, creativity and images.
- Personalization of education. Knowing how students’ brains work allows us to adapt the education systemto the children’s genetic capacity and developmental stage
Yet neuroeducation poses major ethical challenges as well. On the one hand, knowing our students’ brains would allow us to personalize education and adapt it to each student. On the other hand, it could create biases. It’s important to give everyone the best possible opportunities to develop their cognition as much as possible, and it is important to do it in an ethical way.
According to our experts, it is important to train education professionals so they can adapt the education system to each student’s brain conditions and capabilities.
Neuroscience in the Workplace
In the last few decades, constant research in neuroscience has revealed major ideas about brain functions, such as memory, thinking and emotions, that have different applications at work.
If we can apply the knowledge that we have about these functions to our day-to-day work, it could help us manage different work-related situations such as:
- Burnout, which is a syndrome associated with chronic stress in the workplace and characterized by increased mental distance from one’s job, physical and emotional burnout and reduced professional efficacy. It has been classified as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) and experts estimate that it affects 10% of workers, and between 2% and 5% of them suffer from the most serious forms of burnout.
- The relationship between a leader’s emotions and their employees behavior through the limbic system. It is a brain structure considered the emotions management center in humans; it depends on external sources, so our mood is determined by others’ circumstances. So, neuroscience will help us develop emotional tools to manage work relationships, teamwork and proper leadership.
- Teamwork, neuroscience has shown that cognitive diversity has proven to be crucial to teams’ efficiency. A lack of diversity reduces our ability to see things from a different perspective, interact in a different way or create new alternatives. This may take a toll on innovation. To overcome these challenges, companies need to make sure that their employee-selection processes prioritize the cognitive differences among recruits.
- Attention, which is very useful in improving concentration and efficiency in the workplace. A team of researchers from the University of California describes full attention as paying attention to feelings, present emotions and body sensations. As a result, the amygdala is less active and emotions are less intense. Other studies show that full attention has significant benefits in reducing stress and anxiety.
These new findings about the brain and its effect on our well-being and work performance are very promising. But, according to experts, companies still need to get involved and include this information in their organizations and work dynamics.
Neuroscience in Business Areas
Another work-related field is the application of neuroscience to different departments inside a company, such as neuromarketing or behavioral economics, as well as new disciplines such as neuroarchitecture. Findings in these disciplines determine a company’s business development and help it meet clients’ needs.
It is neuroscience applied to the study and analysis of consumer behavior to understand it and predict it. It seeks to understand how the brain activates in response to stimuli generated by marketing techniques, in order to identify brain activity patterns that show more information than that which is revealed by consumer behavior, even deep emotions such as irrational, unwitting and impulsive decision-making.
Neuromarketing aims to go well beyond neuroscience and allow us to know how the nervous system translates most of the stimuli it is exposed to. It allows us to predict consumers’ behavior when faced with those stimuli to identify the best format and the most efficient means that will help the potential consumer remember the message easily.
There are increasingly more companies that apply neuromarketing as a key to understand consumer behavior in order to be more efficient in their relationship with consumers.
Neuroeconomics, yet another field, is also related to the previous point. It is neuroscience applied to the study of economic behavior. It seeks to use our knowledge on brain functioning to better understand the financial and economic decisions that consumers make. Therefore, professional economists study the behavior of consumers’ brains in order to learn how they reacted when presented with different stimuli or actions. Neuroeconomics studies brain activity during economic decision-making processes.
One of the decisive milestones in this variant of neuroscience came from Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and author of several best-sellers and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. Kahneman states that our economic decisions are less rational than we think they are and that we don’t always choose the most logical option. There are different mechanisms that affect these decisions, both negative (aversion system) and positive ones (reward system).
Knowledge of the different neural functionalities and the role they play in several brain systems in decision-making processes might be a determining factor in explaining risky economic transactions and even the creation of bubbles. To understand these processes, we need to take into account that expectations and emotions such as fear and greed affect economic predictions. If we want to make a prediction, we need to have all this neuroscientific information.
Neuroarchitecture is a subfield of traditional architecture that designs buildings according to the brain’s response to different stimuli. Buildings are based on the present or future inhabitants’ emotions and the architect’s desired effect.
No one has written the rules of this discipline yet, but neuroarchitects have detected some common behavior patterns that people display when presented with specific stimuli. For example:
- Optimal thermal balance is essential for well-being.
- Natural lighting and plants affect melatonin and sleep quality.
- People relax more easily when presented with natural fragrances, as well as shades of blue and curves instead of angular spaces.
Putting neuroarchitecture into practice generates a massive amount of data about the habits of buildings’ inhabitants, so it is essential to use technologies like big data or machine learning to process said data.