Products that align themselves with basic and clinical neurosciences do well in the market. There are reasons to be wary about such “brain branding” when commercial interests threaten to compromise scientific and clinical values. We describe three concerns. The first, exemplified in drug development and dissemination, is of the insidious effects of blurred boundaries between academia and industry. The second, exemplified by the sale of brain fitness products, is of commerce getting ahead of the motivating science. The third, exemplified by some functional imaging practices, is of the misuse of neuroscience in marketing technology. We propose three reasons for why brain branding appears to work. First is the seductive allure of neuroscience as providing seemingly deeper explanations of complex phenomena. The second is the persuasive power of pictures, which converges with the allure of neuroscience in brain imaging. The third is the context in which many physicians and patients find themselves. The relative lack of control over the course of chronic diseases may dispose physicians and patients to believe claims made by companies that align themselves with neuroscience. We outline circumstances when clinicians, patients, and consumers should question the usefulness of diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions.
Open Peer Commentaries.
- Neuroenhancement in a Medicated Generation: Overlooked Uses of Cognitive Stimulants
- Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Dietary Supplements for Dementia: An Example of Unhealthy Commerce of Neuroscience
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- Quandaries and Perspectives on Potential Bias