Citizen Neuroscience: Brain-Computer Interface Researcher Perspectives on Do-It-Yourself Brain Research

Sci Eng Ethics. 2020 Jun 12. doi: 10.1007/s11948-020-00227-z. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Devices that record from and stimulate the brain are currently available for consumer use. The increasing sophistication and resolution of these devices provide consumers with the opportunity to engage in do-it-yourself brain research and contribute to neuroscience knowledge. The rise of do-it-yourself (DIY) neuroscience may provide an enriched fund of neural data for researchers, but also raises difficult questions about data quality, standards, and the boundaries of scientific practice. We administered an online survey to brain-computer interface (BCI) researchers to gather their perspectives on DIY brain research. While BCI researcher concerns about data quality and reproducibility were high, the possibility of expert validation of data generated by citizen neuroscientists mitigated concerns. We discuss survey results in the context of an established ethical framework for citizen science, and describe the potential of constructive collaboration between citizens and researchers to both increase data collection and advance understanding of how the brain operates outside the confines of the lab.

Keywords: Brain–computer interface; Brain–machine interface; Citizen neuroscience; Citizen science; EEG; TDCS.