We placed Responsibility at the top of the network structure.
Responsibility refers here to the ethical challenges arising from new neurotechnologies and their potential applications. We aim to discuss those with experts in bioethics and through participatory work with neurodivergent people, parents, family members, teachers, support workers, and the public. It is based on the commitment that the tools that are developed do not cause harm. It aims to tackle challenges, for example how we can include the views and interests of vulnerable populations, such as infants and children and non-verbal or minimally verbal people across a range of support needs. It also explores new ground, such as estimating benefits and risks of the use of neurotechnologies for a person’s long-term development.
Increasing the reliability of data acquisition and analysis are key to detecting early differences in brain and cognitive development. The network will work towards establishing standardising approaches within technologies, such as EEG, fNRIS, fMRI, MEG, ultrasound, eye-tracking or apps but also across technologies to improve comparability of data acquired by different teams or in different settings. For example, one of the goals of the network is to work towards a consensus as a community about what is the most reliable method for pre-processing and analysis of neuroimaging data when looking at neurodevelopment applications. From this we can identify the common challenges of assessing reliability across the board and learn from each other.
Many neurotechnologies, such as the majority of neuroimaging tools can only be used in research or hospital settings and are expensive. This has important implications as it makes it financially and practically challenging to study or test large populations of children and/or to perform longitudinal studies. It also means that the families with the least resources are unfortunately the least likely to be able to access them. Lastly, it means that what we measure with these methods may not represent how the brain is really working in real-world settings. The goal of the scalability working group is to thus to understand how as a community we can overcome these challenges, to make sure that the neurotechnologies we use are affordable, accessible, and representative for all children and families.
Personalisation refers here to the aspires to move away from one-size-fits-all neurotechnology and towards more inclusive and adaptable technologies and methods for neurodivergent individuals across developmental stages. Examples of relevant tools include eye-tracking, smart suits, questionnaires, and neuroimaging methods such as electro-encephalography and functional near-infra red spectroscopy (optical imaging), and their accompanying experimental paradigms.
From this we aim to identify challenges and opportunities for new neurodevelopmental tools or analytic approaches that could enable personalised prognosis or support planning.