This article presents a model for regulating cognitive enhancement devices (CEDs). Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitive enhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety standards. We present the case for extending existing medical device legislation to cover CEDs. Medical devices and CEDs operate by the same or similar mechanisms and pose the same or similar risks. This fact coupled with the arbitrariness of the line between treatment and enhancement count in favour of regulating these devices in the same way. In arguing for this regulatory model, the paper highlights potential challenges to its implementation, and suggests solutions.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- Cognitive enhancement devices
- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency: medical devices
- Transcranial direct current stimulation