In the Matter of Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc., File No. 1423132
Dear FTC staff, I will echo many of my colleagues in noting that it is important that claims made by software companies in the fast-developing field of behavioral intervention, be it visual training, cognitive training or exergames to name a few, be carefully monitored. For a short period of time, some of the claims on the Ultimeyes website were indeed too strong; these were, however, readily removed and replaced as they should have been. The aggressive move of the FTC against Aaron Seitz goes beyond this issue. The company is faulted, in particular, for not having carried out a double blind random-assignment experiment to validate its product, but as discussed by others the double-blind standard is untenable in the case of behavioral interventions -- patients cannot be blind to the game they are asked to play or the exercises they are asked to do. Could other study designs have been used to strengthen the claim of efficacy? Certainly so, but it is troubling to see Ultimeyes being so aggressively singled out on these grounds given the many software brands advertising new ways to heal or improve aspects of their health for a fee. Why would the FTC pursue so aggressively a company whose product is built around a solid scientific literature, when so many other products do not have nearly the same level of legitimacy? Furthermore, the penalty against Dr Seitz's financial assets rather than that of his company seems unduly harsh. In a society which is urging its scientists to move research outcomes from the lab to every day life, it would seem important to not send the message that scientists with little corporate experience will be held personally responsible and rather provide an incentive for universities to better guide and protect their young, talented and enthusiastic scientists through the process of commercialization.