There are myriad neurotechnologies that can read what’s happening in the brain, modify the way it functions, and change the wiring. This is the case for plenty of non-invasive treatments that act from outside the brain. But if we the person’s mind can be reached, even without piercing the skull, what will be the degree of non-invasiveness of the technology.
The deliberation of the question partly comes from start of reading the book ‘The Battle for Your Brain’. The author focuses on legal and ethical challenges that new technologies might pose for society.
In the book, the author covers the potential impacts of technologies that allow us to look inside the minds of others. Meanwhile, brain imaging methodologies are already used by neuroscientists to know a person’s thought process and political bend, or to foretell if prisoners are likely to redo crime. The whole phenomenon sounds invasive.
Meanwhile, there are various ways in which invasiveness is defined, as found by a team of experts at Michigan State when they asked people who underwent treatments that target brain functioning, as well as psychiatrists, and other people.
Medically, invasive treatments are typically the ones that involve some kind of cut in the skin. A clear example is deep brain stimulation. The procedure involves implant of electrodes deep into the brain to excite neurons and control how the brain region fires. The story of a man who electively had 14 electrodes planted into his brain to understand and treat his depression is an example. The man underwent brain surgery, and was conscious while doctors probed his brain to detect the sweet spot to place one of the electrodes.