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  |   Science


Japanese firms roll out brain science products despite ethical, validity concerns

If the Deep Sleep Headband detects a certain level of brainwaves, it plays small tones that enable the user to sleep deeply for far longer.

Japanese companies are facing ethical concerns in heightening their brain technology research, including whether the purported effects are based on science.

While some brain technology products have been cleared for medical use in Japan, the reliability of other applications has not been proved.

Among the Japanese companies is cosmetics giant Shiseido Co., which in the 1980s started studying changes in cerebral waves, brain blood flow, and other elements for cosmetics research.

Shiseido tested six lipsticks with different levels of hardness on 30 women. When the women found the lipsticks easier to apply, their cerebral sections showed significant blood flow changes.

Shiseido says this method of testing provides a more accurate gauge of what customers prefer.

Keiko Tagai, an official at Shiseido’s Mirai research and development center, said that surveys are prone to bias, but cerebral responses reflect subconscious thoughts.

Tagai added they would forge ahead with the studies while presenting scientific evidence.

In April, leading printing firm Toppan Inc. began working out brain science-based designs.

Toppan Inc. came out with the designs by analyzing cerebral blood flow changes and eye movements on test subjects looking at multiple arrangements for pamphlets and advertisements.

The collected data were the basis of what patterns attract more attention and are easier to memorize, said Toppan officials.

In 2019, Philips Japan Ltd. released Deep Sleep Headband for $472 to improve sleep quality.

If the device detects a certain level of brainwaves, it plays small tones that enable the user to sleep deeply for far longer.

Meanwhile, computerized system provider Mediaseek Inc. developed the smartphone app Alpha Switch, a sensor-mounted headband that examines cerebral conditions.

A tune with background noise becomes clearer if the user relaxes to produce significantly strong alpha waves, which are believed to heighten concentration and improve short-term memory.

Business operators, professional sports teams, and other entities have adopted Alpha Switch.

Players of Matsumoto Yamaga FC, which competes in the J2 division of the professional soccer J.League, began using Alpha Switch earlier this year.

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