Electric Fields Fight Deadly Brain Tumors

Survival rates are boosted by an oscillating field that attacks dividing cancer cells

4 min read
Illustration: Erik Vrielink
Illustration: Erik Vrielink

/image/Mjg0MTY1Mw.jpegA Wearable Treatment: The Optune system requires brain cancer patients to wear four adhesive electrode patches on their heads and carry a 1.2-kg electric field generator in a shoulder bag.Photo: Novocure

Jessica Morris was on a hiking trail in upstate New York last January when she suddenly uttered a line of gibberish and fell to the ground, her body shaking in a full seizure. A few hours later in a hospital she learned that she had glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, and several days after that she was on the operating table having brain surgery. Since then, she’s been fighting for her life.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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