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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

ISSN Print: 2151-805X
ISSN Online: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2012004853
pages 221-232

EEG-Based Neurofeedback: The Promise of Neurotechnology and Need for Neuroethically Informed Guidelines and Policies

Herbert Plischke
Generation Research Program, Human Science Center, Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munchen, GER; Department of Applied Sciences and Mechatronics, Hochschule fur Angewandt Wissenschaften, Munchen, GER
Donald DuRousseau
PEAK Neurotraining Solutions, Inc., Sterling, VA 20165
James Giordano
Center for Neurotechnology Studies, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Arlington, VA, USA; Department of Electrical and Computational Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA; and Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, University of Oxford,


There is increasing interest in the use of electroencephalograpically (EEG)-based neurofeedback in both clinical and nonclinical settings, due in part to new developments in the field, and greater public exposure and demand. While new iterations of EEG-based brain machine neurotechnologies (BMNs) are improving the viability of such approaches, it is important to address distinctions between types, utility and value of EEG-based BMNs so as to accurately assess potential benefits, burdens, and risks. This paper explicates technical distinctions between EEG-based BMNs, defines important neuroethical issues arising from their use and/or misuse, and posits a series of recommendations for guidelines and policies. These include: (1) the use of BMN technologies to treat neuropsychological conditions should be limited to clinical settings, and be under the supervision of healthcare professionals; (2) EEG-based BMN devices should be more strictly defined, as regards their technology, mechanism(s), and effects; (3) ongoing research needs to be conducted to further address mechanisms of neurofeedback, improve neurofeedback technology, and inform guidelines and policies; and (4) such guidelines and policies should be engaged in governmental oversight and regulation of neurofeedback devices that are employed in both clinical and nonclinical settings, so as to insure apt use, and mitigate potential deleterious effects.