The world’s biggest tech company has been criticised for its use of cognitive enhancement technologies and for having an unproven use case for a controversial technique.
In January, Facebook’s chief operating officer and head of its research and development unit, Christian Ruder, said the company was “100 per cent committed to exploring the potential of cognitive enhancers”.
“The future of the human brain is here, and we’re making the best possible use of the technology to advance people and society,” he said.
The move drew criticism from academics and experts in neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science.
“There are no published research results to suggest that using cognitive enhancement will lead to cognitive enhancement, cognitive enhancement is not effective, and there is no evidence to suggest it will lead people to make decisions based on it,” said Paul Bloom, a cognitive scientist at Oxford University.
“In short, we have no evidence that using this technology to enhance cognition will improve our lives.”
Professor Ruder was responding to a question from the BBC Science blog, which asked whether the technology was effective in improving the way people make decisions.
The blog pointed to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health that found “the use of a cognitive enhancer can improve performance in a wide range of tasks in humans, including language, memory and decision-making”.
The researchers also found that “people who use cognitive enhancers are not less likely to be cognitively impaired” when compared to those who do not.
Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.
Prof Ruder’s comments came as research has emerged that suggests some people are using the technology in a more positive way.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that those who took part in a study using the “enhance cognitive behaviour therapy” (ECBT) treatment were more likely to report having positive emotional experiences with their therapy sessions.
In the study, participants who received ECTT were more apt to report positive feelings for their treatment.
“Those who took the therapy reported feeling more positively about themselves and less negative about their symptoms,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Joanna Ruggiero, of the University of Exeter.
“This was true for both positive and negative symptoms.”
The study, which involved more than 200 people, found that people who were given ECT were more satisfied with their mental health, said Dr Ruggie.
They also reported feeling less anxious and less depressed.
“They were also less likely than their peers to experience a mental health crisis and less likely, in general, to report experiencing any adverse psychological outcomes during treatment,” she said.
It is not clear if the research findings will translate to the everyday lives of people who take part in the technology.
“It’s important to remember that these are not scientific findings, they’re just hypotheses,” said Professor Ruggy.
The researchers are now working on a follow-up study to look at whether the positive changes reported by those taking the therapy are also reflected in the psychological outcomes.
The ECT treatment is a form of cognitive therapy that involves using a device to increase your focus, memory, attention and decision making.
“If these results translate to real life, it will be very interesting to see if we can make these effects more widespread,” Dr Roggie said.
What is cognitive enhancement?
Cognitive enhancement refers to the enhancement of cognition.
It involves using software to increase a person’s ability to remember a list of words or to learn new ones.
The term was coined in the 1990s to refer to the use of brain stimulation devices in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Cognitive enhancers have been around for decades, but they are mainly used for tasks involving problem-solving or learning new skills.
They can also be used to improve a person´s mood or enhance cognitive processing.
Cognitive enhancements have been associated with improvements in a number of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.
They have also been linked to changes in physical health.
However, there is currently no evidence showing that using the therapy improves outcomes for the general population.
Researchers are currently exploring the use for people with conditions like dementia and autism.
What do the scientific studies say?
The research findings have been reviewed by more than 20 academic and scientific organisations, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cognitive Impairment, the European Society for Neuroscience, the American Psychological Association, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Journal Of Clinical Neuroscience and the American Academy of Neurology.
In general, the results of these studies suggest that cognitive enhancement may have benefits for people, but there is not conclusive evidence that it improves the health of the general public.
For instance, some studies found that the use did not increase levels of anxiety, while others found that it increased levels of positive emotions.
In addition, the studies that have been done have only assessed the effects of the treatment on symptoms rather than cognitive performance.
There have been a few clinical trials, which have examined