News and analysis on the implications of brain science.
A daylong seminar: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 - 8:00am to 7:00pm.
by Moheb Costandi
Research suggests that non-invasive techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation might enhance sporting performance. This has not been confirmed yet, however, and even if it is, it would probably be considered as unacceptable as taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Join Science Live on Thursday, 23 May, at 3 p.m. EDT for a live Google Hangout to chat with experts about the fate of the DSM. Moderated by Emily Underwood, a neuroscience writer for Science Magazine.
by Daniel Engber
May 13, 2013
How far should science go in making human-animal chimeras?
At this June 1 World Science Festival event in New York City, a distinguished group of neuroscientists and legal experts will debate how and if neuroscience should inform our laws and how we treat criminals.
Much of what we “know” from neuroscience research is not ready—yet—for use in the courtroom, argued panelists during a forum April 25 in Washington, DC. A webcast from the Neuroscience and Law series, sponsored by the Dana Foundation, AAAS, The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and the International Neuroethics Society.
by Pam Belluck and Benedict Carey
Just weeks before the long-awaited publication of a new edition of the so-called bible of mental disorders, the federal government’s most prominent psychiatric expert has said the book suffers from a scientific “lack of validity.” Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said his goal was to reshape the direction of psychiatric research to focus on biology, genetics and neuroscience so that scientists can define disorders by their causes, rather than their symptoms.
by Stephen G. Lisberger, Ph.D.
By all accounts, scientific misconduct over the last decade is on the rise, especially in the area of journal retractions. In neuroscience, our author—both a leading academic and an experienced neuroscience journal editor—believes the field is detecting “only the tip of the fraud iceberg.” His story addresses the nature, detection, and incentives for fraud, and suggests reforms.
by Emma Moody and Rudi Stanislaus-Carter
A Summary of the April 5 lecture given by Professor Barbara Sahakian at St. Andrews University.
April 30, 2013
An interview with psychologist Adrian Raine about his research into the biological roots of criminal behavior.
The New York Academy of Sciences recently interviewed Professors Kent Kiehl and Owen Jones for a Science & the City Podcast. The podcast discussed “the developing role of neuroscience in the legal system” and focused on the recent PNAS publication, Neuroprediction of Future Rearrest.
At a session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), panelists argued that neuroscience is not yet ready for the courtroom.
by Moheb Costandi
Researchers are discovering medicines and methods that could enhance, dampen, or erase memories. At the recent BNA Festival of Neuroscience, ethicists and scientists considered the implications of modifying the mental record during a process called memory reconsolidation.
Separating Hype from Hope in the Oxytocin Research Explosion
by Brenda Patoine
In our latest briefing paper, neuroscientists express cautious enthusiasm about the hormone’s potential applications, but also warn of misperceptions brought on by oversimplified reporting.
The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and the International Neuroethics Society are pleased to present a set of two Wellcome Lectures in Neuroethics on May 1 in Oxford, UK:
- Brain mechanisms of voluntary action: the implications for responsibility
- The irresponsible self: Self bias changes the way we see the world
The event is open to the public.
March 25, 2013
Speakers at this DC event will address what neuroscience can and cannot tell us about human behavior; the ways in which neuroscience is entering the courtroom; and the challenges this emerging knowledge poses for the trier of fact. Co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Dana Foundation as part of the Neuroscience & Society series, this event is open to the public. Register here
by Regina Nuzzo
March 25, 2013
Neuroimaging 'biomarker' linked to rearrest after incarceration.
by Danielle Venton
A new study suggests that fMRI can decode a person’s decision before he or she is even conscious of it.
by Grady Johnson and Sean Vitka
March 25, 2013
How next-generation apps will market your brainwaves.
Failure of the media to communicate neuroscience is the focus of a four-person panel.
by Vaughan Bell
A Colorado judge allows the use of “truth serum” to support an insanity plea. “[T]he ‘narcoanalytic interview’ is so left-field as to leave some people scratching their heads as to whether the judge has been at the narcotics himself.”
by Carol Brayne, et al.
February 27, 2013
A rallying call for an evidence based approach to dementia and related policy development.
by Michael Cook
February 23, 2013
President Obama’s announcement of the brain mapping project points toward investment in the field, but some neuroscientists worry that this one project will take funds away from other worthy studies.
by Brian Palmer
February 20, 2013
We are confused when we wake up. Could Oscar Pistorius use that as a defense?
This mini-symposium will introduce recent and exciting developments at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and law. Featuring Anthony Wagner, Francis Shen, and Dana Alliance members Martha J. Farah and B.J. Casey.
Tuesday, April 16 in San Francisco.
In this report, two doctors respond to the question.
by Judy Illes
Funding, debate and communication are crucial to increasing our knowledge of brain function.
by Liat Clark
January 29, 2013
Sensationalist reporting damages public perception of science.
January 9, 2013
A study suggests that replacing prison terms with drug abuse treatment could save billions in criminal justice costs.
Increasingly, the DNA of individual killers is being studied in an attempt to tie violent behavior to genetics.
by Claudia Dreifus
An interview with neuroethicist
S. Matthew Liao, director of the bioethics program at New York University.
Experts in neuroscience of memory, post-traumatic stress, and the laws of evidence discuss the complicated use of memory in the courtroom in this interdisciplinary panel with moderator Dick Lehr.
January 31, 2013, from 6-9pm.
Harvard Medical School, Boston.
by Judy Illes and Adrian Byram
Opinion: Research has yet to offer definitive answers about brain-injured patients’ state of consciousness.
by Gareth Cook
Knowledge of how the brain intuits what someone else is thinking helps Rebecca Saxe devise possible solutions to seemingly intractable political and social conflict
by Moheb Costandi
What does it mean for society that use of smart drugs is increasing among cognitively healthy people?
Check out the upcoming Penn Neuroscience and Society public talks. Next up is Brain Rumors: Public (Mis)understanding of Neuroscience and Why It Matters, on December 6. Talks are open to the public, but RSVP is required.
The Supreme Court is wrong to let Idaho have no insanity defense
by Emily Bazelon
November 28, 2012
After a challenge is dismissed by the Supreme Court this week, Idaho continues to not recognize the insanity defense for criminal conduct.
by Jorge Castillo
A growing number of professional football players are testing positive for Adderall, commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but listed as a banned substance by the NFL.
The abstract submission deadline for the 7th International Conference on Ethical Issues in Biomedical Engineering has been extended to November 30. The conference will be held in Brooklyn, April 20th and 21st, 2013, and is sponsored by SUNY Downstate Medical Center and co-sponsored by the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE); Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, among others.
by Ray Kurzweil
November 16, 2012
Are you still you if devices improve your memory, attention span, and other cognitive skills?
by Jim Schnabel
As research is showing that much of our decision-making—for good and ill—is unconscious, why not nudge people into making better choices rather than foisting rational arguments on them?
Watch movies with a neuroethics theme at the fall film festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Movies screen from Friday, November 23 to Sunday, November 25.
Watch panel discussions from the International Neuroethics Society annual meeting in mid-October.
The responsibility for communicating science to the public starts with scientists, argued panelists at a social-issues roundtable during the recent Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting.
In the final panel of the International Neuroethics Society annual meeting, scientists discussed the animal-machine models they’re using to further investigate motor function and learning.
At the International Neuroethics Society meeting, Dana Alliance member Charles O’Brien questioned whether ethical concerns are impeding treatment for addicts with criminal history.
by Steve Fleming
Neuroscience is changing the meaning of criminal guilt. That might make us more, not less, responsible for our actions.
by Tiffany Crawford and Christopher Reynolds
A Canadian national trial for a controversial MS treatment will soon begin recruiting patients.
by Alison Knopf
A recent example of the media exaggerating the results of a scientific study.
by Christian Jarrett
Research indicates that asking witnesses to close their eyes while recalling an event is a simple, yet effective way to improve eye-witness testimony.
by Kate Kelland
August 29, 2012
The defense attorneys of a once respected Italian pediatrician accused of making sexual advances on his young patients argue that a brain tumor on the base of his brain caused his behavior to change. “It makes me wonder about the notion of responsibility,” says Dana Alliance member Colin Blakemore.
by Maia Szalavitz
August 17, 2012
Why judges hand down shorter sentences to convicted psychopaths when their behavior is blamed on the brain.
by Benedict Carey
Judges who were told that a defendant in a hypothetical case was genetically predisposed to violence imposed lighter sentences than they otherwise would have, researchers reported.
by Alexandra Topping
Tony Nicklinson, paralyzed below the neck and unable to speak, cannot have a doctor end his life, court rules.
September 7 and 8, 2012
Rutgers School of Law-Camden, no charge
This conference will bring together leading legal scholars to assess the current "State of the art" in law and neuroscience, including: Debra Denno, Adam Kolber, John Mikhail, Michael Moore, Stephen Morse, Michael Pardo, Frederick Schauer and Nicole Vincent (Macquarie/Delft). Presentations will focus widely on theoretical and practical issues, as well as implications for law and legal theory.
by Chris French
Polygraphs are notoriously unreliable and easy to fool, and sooner or later sex offenders will discover the truth about them.
by Melissa Healy
Should doctors be able to prescribe drugs approved by the FDA to treat a certain disease to patients suffering from an un-related disease if clinical trials show some promise?
Dana Alliance member Judy Illes discusses her career, including what led her to focus on neuroethics.
by Daniel Bor
The recent discovery of fabricated quotes by a lauded science writer underscores the need for careful scientific review of popular science articles prior to publication.
A Primer on Emerging Neurotechnologies, and How Society Must Deal with Them
by Jonathan D. Moreno and Martha J. Farah
by Moheb Costandi
Deep brain stimulation, cell transplantation, and gene therapy offer hope of treatment or cure for a range of diseases but also raise serious ethical questions. Three experts offered their take on the issues during the William Safire lecture on Neuroethics at the recent European Federation of Neuroscience meeting in Barcelona.
by Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D., and Cindy S. Merrick
In the first part of an ongoing series, STATS looks at functional magnetic resonance imaging, and whether it’s really the window on the mind that some in the media – and science – would have us believe.
The abstract submission deadline for the International Neuroethics Society meeting has been extended to July 31.
by Benjamin Weiser
Almost a year after a decision aimed at resolving the “troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications,” the New Jersey Supreme Court issued instructions to help jurors better evaluate such evidence.
by Dan Harris, Lana Zak, and Dr. Mark Abdelmalek
A growing number of healthy people are taking the drug Provigil, approved for narcolepsy and sleep apnea, to improve their focus.
by Rosie Mestel
Ethical concerns are raised over the successful sequencing of human fetuses.
by Carl Zimmer
Science writer Carl Zimmer digs into the science behind cognitive enhancement drinks (and tries some of them in the process).
by Matt Webb
A neuromarketing company relies on neuroscience hype to make the news.
by Cyd Cipolla
Cyd Cipolla attended the Neuroscience, Law, and Ethics of Lie Detection Technologies Symposium in May and was left pondering the questions: “Who owns the thoughts in my head? Could I be compelled to submit them? Can someone else decide that keeping my ideas to myself is a violation of the law or a threat to my country? If they force me to surrender them, do I lose ownership?”
by Moheb Costandi
As technology advances to the point where doctors can communicate to some extent with minimally conscious patients, what should they be asking? Simply, "Do you need another pillow?" Or, "Do you want to die?"
The legal system needs to take greater account of new discoveries in neuroscience that show how a difficult childhood can affect the development of a young person's brain which can increase the risk adolescent crimes, according to researchers.
by Brian D. Earp, Julian Savulescu, and Anders Sandberg
Love drugs and science reporting in the media: Setting the record straight.
by Alan Schwarz
At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse stimulants.
by Todd Bishop
Microsoft patents an application that targets ads to users based on their perceived emotional states.
The International Neuroethics Society accepts abstracts reporting recent results in the field of neuroethics and related topics. Investigators at any career stage are encouraged to submit abstracts. Selections will be made based on content, available space, and overall balance. The deadline is 5pm on July 2.
by Mo Costandi
Should amputation be offered as a treatment to people suffering from Body Integrity Identity Disorder?
The brain disease model of addiction: Assessing its validity, utility and implications for public policy towards the treatment and prevention of addiction.
Wayne Hall, NHMRC Australia Fellow, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research
Thursday 14 June, 5.30 – 7.00 p.m., Seminar Room 1, Oxford Martin School, 34 Broad St.
All welcome-no need to book.
by Jonathan D. Moreno
Given the obvious dangers, fully autonomous offensive lethal weapons should never be permitted.
by Vaughan Bell
'Lie detectors' are highly fallible, yet suspects are more likely to tell the truth when wired up to them. So should we trust this flawed technology?
by Wolfgang Stroebe
Can subliminal advertisements influence our behavior? New research says yes—but only under certain circumstances.
On May 13 at Conway Hall in London, Mo Costandi will detail the neurological origins and ethical issues arising from Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), an extremely rare condition in which sufferers feel an overwhelming urge to amputate an otherwise perfectly healthy limb
by Ewen Callaway
April 17, 2012
Pioneering clinical genome-sequencing projects focus on patients with developmental delay.
Eyewitness mistakes lead to tragic errors in court, but new methods could help
by Jonah Lehrer
An Australian study offers new insight into ways to increase the accuracy of police lineups.
by Ed Yong
A look at the current state of lie-detection. Existing devices are far from perfect, yet they are already used in trials "with varying success."
by Alan Boyle
An fMRI study from Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences looks for brain regions associated with sympathy in jurors’ brains.
by Jessica Leo
Peter B. Reiner, a professor at Vancouver's National Core for Neuroethics at the Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research, weighs in on the neuromarketing debate.
by Michael N. Tennison and Jonathan D. Moreno
Mind Wars author and U. Penn Professor Jonathan Moreno and Wake Forest Professor Michael N. Tennison discuss the ethical issues that arise from the close funding relationship between the Department of Defense and the neuroscience community.
Dana Alliance member Michael Gazzaniga is one of seven authors featured in a round-up of articles about the notion of free will.
by Nicky Penttila
Our memories are not like DVRs, so it’s no surprise that eyewitnesses sometimes point out the wrong person. At the recent AAAS conference, a retired judge described how police collect such testimony—and what they might do to improve its accuracy.
by Olivier Oullier
February 29, 2012
France has banned commercial applications of brain imaging. So why approve its use in court?
There are two neuroethics-themed public lectures on Monday, February 27 in Oxford, UK. The first is “Resource depletion: the duration of impairment,” and the second is “Towards a science of moral enhancement: insights from neuroscience and behavioral economics.” The event starts at 5:30pm and no reservations are required.
by Charles Duhigg
Retailers study our individual shopping habits to better market their products.
by Judy Illes and Judy Robillard
What to expect at the 2012 AAAS session on neuroscience and the law.
Videos of panel discussions and lectures from last November’s INS meeting in Washington, D.C. are now available for free online viewing. Topics include neuroscience and the law, neuroscience and national security, and novel treatments in psychiatry.
The Royal Society has released this report which “considers some of the potential military and law enforcement applications arising from key advances in neuroscience.”
The report is available for download in PDF, as well as in versions compatible with Kindle and e-readers (EPUB).
by Ross Andersen
Interview with ethicist Allen Buchanan on cognitive enhancement.
by Gary Stix
Are these relatively simple electric shock treatments too good to be true?
Tiny electric shocks can boost the brain’s performance in healthy adults.
The Royal Society has released a report on the growing relationship between neuroscience research and the legal system. The report is available for download in PDF, as well as in versions compatible with Kindle and e-readers (EPUB).
Alan Leshner, Martha Farah, and Jay Giedd "discuss the rising influence of neuroscience in the courtroom, how advances in neuroscience are posing new challenges for the judicial system, and the use of therapeutic solutions for reforming criminals.”
by Ann Parson
Neuromarketing, the practice of using neuroscience to try to determine a person’s unconscious biological reactions to a product, is here to stay, but whether it works is much harder to prove.
by Maria Cheng
Noting that brain imaging is increasingly being used in U.S. trials, a study from the Royal Society in England reports that "it's too soon for the law to be swayed by scientists' understanding of the brain.”
by Gary Stix
Scientific American reports from the SUNY Downstate symposium on neuroethics and memory.
by Moheb Costandi
Researchers can describe differences in the brains of psychopaths, addicts, and developing humans (a k a teenagers), compared with normally behaving adults. But no one is ready to predict a person's behavior based on a brain scan, warned panelists during a public symposium at the recent Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.
by Tayler Cattera
A report on the keynote lecture at Western Michigan University’s recent philosophy conference, which was given by Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics at Duke University. The lecture addressed neural detection of consciousness, criminal responsibility, and neuroprediction.
If you’re in the New York City area and are interested in neuroethics, SUNY Downstate Medical Center is sponsoring a one-day symposium on the neuroethics of memory. The event is free, but advanced registration is required.
by Laura Beil
Another examination of witness testimony in the court system, a topic being reviewed by the Supreme Court this month.
Scientists are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their research—good and bad
by Heather E. Douglas
Heather Douglas, Waterloo Chair in Science and Society at the University of Waterloo, debates the question, “[A]re scientists responsible for the potentially negative impacts of their work?”
Commentary on the Society for Neuroscience panel The Brain on Trial: Neuroscience and the Law, featuring Drs. Craig Stark, Adrian Raine, Abigail Baird, and Steven E. Hyman. Video of the talk included.
Some people’s brains may doom them to a life of crime
by Michael Gazzaniga
November 15, 2011
An excerpt from Dr. Gazzaniga’s new book, Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain.
At the International Neuroethics Society meeting’s final panel, two lawyers and a neurologist talked about the role imaging evidence played in landmark trials in which they participated.
by Nicky Penttila
During a workshop at the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society, panelists advised ethical wannabes to just get started.
by Laura Sanders
In a new white paper published by neuroscientists James Giordano of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Rachel Wurzman of Georgetown University Medical Center, they “describe emerging brain technologies and argue that the United States must be proactive in neuroscience-based research that could be used for national intelligence and security.”
by Benedict Carey
Using a relatively common EEG test, doctors found that three patients, believed to be in vegetative states, showed signs of full consciousness.
The Supreme Court weighs in on longstanding standards for eyewitness testimony.
Jonathon Moreno explains what it means to be a bioethicist and discusses new trends in the field. These topics and more are covered in his new book, The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America.
by Neil Levy
Neuroethicist Neil Levy, Florey Neuroscience Institutes, discusses the role of responsibility in drug addiction.
by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
September 30, 2011
Despite new findings that people with down syndrome and their families have reported an “overwhelmingly positive quality of life,” bioethicist Arthur Caplan believes most parents will still elect to end pregnancies where down syndrome is detected.
by Amanda Lee Myers and Jacques Billeaud
After showing improvement from medication forcibly administered to treat his schizophrenia, Jared Loughner is ruled by a federal judge to “eventually be made mentally fit to stand trial.”
A UK High Court judge rules against a family’s request to withdraw life-support treatment for a brain-damaged, minimally conscious woman.
by Henry T. Greely
Law professor Henry "Hank" Greely previews the law and neuroscience panel at the November INS meeting.
September 22, 2011
In a Nature special, the journal offers several articles about the relationship between science and the military
by Pauline Tam
Neuroscientist Adrian Owen, University of Western Ontario, aims to develop a cheaper way for hospitals to test for awareness in patients in vegetative states. If communication with these patients can be established, should they be asked about their care and whether they want to live or die?
Researchers at Yale University are testing the hypothesis that people are innately biased towards good or evil.
by Brenda Patoine
Dana grantee Charles P. O’Brien works with parolees who have a history of addiction and relapse. His research using naltrexone to combat alcoholism and drug addiction has shown good results, but he is frustrated at the reluctance of many doctors to treat addiction with medication. He hopes his research “will convince judges, prosecutors, and parole officers that naltrexone will help addicts stay off drugs, help prisons empty out a bit, and save a lot of money.”
by Kyle Munkittrick
September 13, 2011
What is transhumanism? In a Slate debate started off by writer Kyle Munkittrick, the convergence of human beings and technology is explored.
A convicted murderer in Italy, deemed mentally ill, has her sentence reduced based on neuroimaging data.
by Michael Stobbe
New details are released about the 1940s medical experiments carried out by the U.S. Public Health Service, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, and a number of Guatemalan government agencies on unknowing Guatemalans.
by Erica Goode and John Schwartz
New Jersey's Supreme Court ruling on eye witness identifications could change the way police conduct future investigations.
August 23, 2011
The American Association for the Advancement of Science issues a release about the first Capitol Hill Briefing, held July 26 and sponsored by the Dana Foundation. The session focused on military applications of neuroscience, and featured Dana Alliance members such as Martha Farah, Alan Leshner, and Jonathan Moreno.
by Jennifer Welsh
Despite ethical concerns, one researcher advocates for the use of memory-altering drugs in treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
If the intersection of neuroscience research and ethics interests you, then don’t miss the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS), Nov. 10 and 11 in Washington, DC.
A review of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes-style research into brain boosting
by Torie Bosch
With Hollywood films taking on futuristic brain-boosting in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Limitless, one writer asks the question, “What kind of neuroenhancers are actually in the real-world pipeline right now?”
by Michelle Hutchinson
The University of Oxford’s blog, Practical Ethics, addresses the recent report from the Academy of Medical Sciences, which examines “the use of animals containing human material (ACHM) in scientific research.”
by Margaret Somerville
Are techno sapiens our future? Margaret Somerville, director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, raises concerns over the transhumanist movement to use technology to “enhance and extend our human capabilities.”
Alleged Ariz. shooter may be given antipsychotic medications so that he can stand trial
by Arthur Caplan
Dana Alliance member Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania explains why he thinks that Jared Loughner should be forcibly medicated to stand trial.
by David Eagleman
Dr. Eagleman discusses the impact of neuroscience discoveries in today’s courts, and questions whether our current legal system is capable of addressing the individual neurobiology of defendants.
The University of Oxford’s Practical Ethics blog announces the launch of a new neuroethics blog in collaboration with the International Neuroethics Society.
by Kayt Sukel
In this Dana Foundation briefing paper, neuroethics experts discuss how advances in neuroscience may help defense attorneys who represent mentally ill clients.
by Elizabeth Lopatto
Doctors may be able to tell whether a patient is in a vegetative or minimally conscious state by tracking signals on a path through the brain, a study said.
Could the scientific discoveries of recent decades about how the brain works also be used to improve the functioning of healthy individuals?
Part II: Neuroethics: The Brain and Religious Beliefs
This second part of Brain Posts’ three-part summary of the May 2011 Warren Frontiers in Neuroscience lecture looks at the brain and religious beliefs.
Part I: Neuroethics: The Brain and Moral Beliefs
Brain Posts blog offers a three-part summary of the May 2011 Warren Frontiers in Neuroscience lecture, titled “Brain Regions Supporting the Establishment of Human Beliefs.” Presented by Dana Alliance member Jordan Grafman, the lecture was divided into three parts: moral beliefs, religious beliefs, and political beliefs.
by Tobias Skuban, Katja Hardenacke, Christiane Woopen, and Jens Kuhn
Skuban et al. discuss concerns associated with patient consent for deep brain stimulation, particularly in cases where the procedure is being used to treat psychiatric disorders.
by Caroline Perry
A symposium held on April 14 addressed the question can privacy, individual autonomy, and scientific enterprise coexist?
What is the downside of brain-enhancing drugs?
by Jeremy Laurance
Using the movie “Limitless” as a jumping off point for a discussion on “smart drugs,” writer Jeremy Laurance explores the boundary between therapy and enhancement.
by Michael Gazzaniga
Dana Alliance member Michael Gazzaniga explains how neurological evidence can affect the outcome of criminal cases even if juries never hear it.
by Kyle Munkittrick
Discover blogger Kyle Munkittrick addresses recent news about mood altering drugs and whether or not these drugs can eventually be used to create a more moralistic society. He argues that while “mood creates conditions conducive to moral behavior. Mood does not determine moral behavior.”
Listen to Martha Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, discuss the the current state of neurolaw and the legal implications of neuroscientific research.
by David Eagleman
Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains how brain research could lead us to create a better legal system.
by Nicky Penttila
Following up on Guy McKhann's recent Brain in the News column and the Dana Foundation’s news story on deep brain stimulation to treat Tourette's, Nicky Penttila blogs about the controversy among neuroscientists on how quickly to extend the procedure to other psychiatric illnesses.
by Amelia Hill
Drugs that impact moral behavior already exist, and scientists predict that future research may lead to even more sophisticated manipulations.
by Nicky Penttila
Neuroscience findings offer tantalizing clues to our behavior, but in most cases they aren't specific or individual enough to introduce into court. Lawyers, judges, and scientists discussed the present and looked to the future at a recent Law & the Brain forum in New York.
Judy Illes, the Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia, discusses how she has successfully used Brain Awareness Week as a platform to increase interest in neuroethics.
by Alok Jha
Paul Fairchild, co-director of the newly founded Oxford Stem Cell Institute, discusses his vision for the coming, post-hype decade of stem cell science.
What should we think of people whose addled brains are driving them to nymphomania?
by Jesse Bering
March 3, 2011
Slate writer Jesse Bering discusses several cases where brain injury or disease led people to exhibit hypersexualized behavior, in some instances leading to criminal acts.
by Matt Lamkin
College campuses struggle to address the increasing use of performance enhancement drugs, such as Ritalin, by healthy students. Matt Lamkin argues that schools need to restore “a culture of deep engagement in education, rather than just competition for credentials.”
by Benedict Carey
Arguing that “commercial interest has been working to push D.B.S. into the psychiatric market ahead of the science,” prominent researchers voice concern over surgical treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder.
by Julie M. Robillard and Judy Illes
Drs. Robillard and Illes discuss the challenges of treating patients with dementia.
by Brigid O'Connell
Oxford professor Julian Salvulescu advocates using IVF to select the smartest embryos, despite the possibility that this practice could increase social inequalities.
by Jim Schnabel
Twenty research volunteers who received electrical stimulation of the anterior temporal lobes were three times as likely to reach the fresh insight necessary to solve a difficult, unfamiliar problem as were those in a control group, according to a new study.
by Moheb Costandi
Scientists who do research on groups outside their culture shouldn't assume their subjects share the same beliefs or worldview, said a panelist during the Neuroethics Society's annual meeting.
by Seth Borenstein
Pharmacologist David Nichols studies psychedelic drugs and makes chemicals that he hopes will lead to treatments for diseases like Parkinson's. But, some of his published research has lead to the creation of street drugs, resulting in a number of deaths. In this AP article, he talks about his struggle with this unintended consequence of his work.
Interviews with Neuroethics Society Board Members
The Science Network offers several video interviews with Neuroethics Society board members, recorded during the November conference. Speakers include Dana Alliance members Judy Illes, Steve Hyman, and Patricia Smith Churchland.
by Moheb Costandi
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., and Dominic Sisti, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania discuss The High School Bioethics Project, an initiative started in 2007 and funded in part by the Dana Foundation. The project aims to increase discussions about bioethics in high school classrooms through a combination of curriculum development, online initiatives, and outreach programs.
by Gina Kolata
Although researchers are making headway in determining early signs of Alzheimer's disease, should these test be available to the public?
by Hank Greely
Stanford law professor Hank Greely warns about the accuracy of lie-detection through brain imaging and questions how the technology will ultimately be used.
A blog about the presentation, "Brain, Mind and the Moral: Challenges of Neuroethics," given by Dr. Nuala Kenny, Dalhousie University, at the Laureate Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier this month.
by Marc Blitz
Law professor Marc Blitz guest blogs about the 2010 Neuroethics Society meeting, held November 11-12.
by Cathy Lynn Grossman
November 18, 2010
Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and NPR religion reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty discuss whether neurology and genetic sciences might change the way we think about justice, free will, and sin.
by Tom Blackwell
Ethicists worry about the growing use of deep brain stimulation to treat an increasingly diverse range of diseases and disorders. They question whether patients are being properly informed about potential life-altering side effects.
Neuroscientists Need to Communicate Their Research to the Public More Effectively
by Moheb Costandi
Discoveries about the brain can affect our daily lives, and neuroscientists and the institutions they work for have the obligation to explain how and why, says Judy Illes, a co-founder of the Neuroethics Society and member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.
August 20, 2010
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly correspondent, Lucky Severson speaks with leaders in technology, theology, and neuroscience about the ethical considerations of human enhancement.
by Daniel Z. Buchman, Judy Illes, & Peter B. Reiner
A paper published by the journal Neuroethics looks at the unintended consequences of labeling addiction as a “brain disease.”
What Are We Afraid Of?
by Henry T. Greely
In 2008, Henry T. Greely, a professor at Stanford Law School, co-authored a commentary
that it concluded that “safe and effective cognitive enhancers will benefit both the individual and society.” In this new essay for Cerebrum
, he argues that only some concerns about the use of cognitive enhancements are justified; it's proper to give attention to address these issues. But rather than banning cognitive enhancements, as some have suggested, we should determine rules for their use.
by Denise Grady
Medical professionals worry as MS patients clamor for a new, unproven treatment that involves opening veins to treat blocked heart arteries. Though the research is only in the beginning stages, some patients are taking matters into their own hands, finding doctors abroad and in the U.S. who are willing to perform the procedure, despite its potential risks.
by Tom Valeo
Studies using fMRI imaging to identify when a person recognizes a face are “only as good as a person’s memory,” reports one researcher. “All we could identify was a person’s belief that he or she had seen a particular face before,” but this belief could be strong even for faces the person had never seen.
University of British Columbia researchers question existing recommendations for how to handle unexpected finds in brain imaging studies.
by Misha Angrist
June 23, 2010
A “recovering geneticist” addresses the concerns over Berkeley and Stanford’s plans to analyze student DNA.
by Errol Morris
In the first part of a five-part series for the New York Times, writer and award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris looks into the question, “Can you be too incompetent to understand just how incompetent you are?”
by Julie Robillard and Judy Illes
In a special to the Vancouver Sun, Dr. Julie Robillard and Dana Alliance member Dr. Judy Illes discuss the implications of promoting unproven health treatments through social networking sites and individual success stories in the media. Referencing the recent media enthusiasm over an encouraging MS pilot study, Robillard and Illes note that such promotion can give false hope to patients and lead to irresponsible marketing practices by health care providers.
Researchers are discovering and perfecting ways to cleanse our minds of memories, major and minor. But who decides if a mind should be cleansed, and of which memories? And how do we know that any memory is "real"? Last of a 7-part series on false memories
May 14, 2010
On Talk of the Nation, Stanford law professor Hank Greely speaks with host Paul Raeburn about the implications of neuroimaging evidence in court cases. Using lie detection as a jumping off point, they discuss the current state of the technology and the ethical issues that may arise from such measures.
On April 7, President Obama announced his intended appointees for the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which included Dana Alliance member Stephen Hauser, University of California, San Francisco.
Some researchers seem less shy about citing their links to military or commercial funding. Does that mean they have sold out? asks one blogger.
A mock trial highlights the tricky issues faced by judges and researchers as neuroscience images become more common in the courtroom. Aalok Mehta reports from the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement for Science.
by Ed Yong and Alice Fishburn
Early success with reversing conditioned fear responses and other findings about how memories form have prompted ethical questions—some overblown and others worth considering, according to this analysis.
January 5, 2010
A radio program in San Diego features a discussion of deep brain stimulation, including ethical concerns, with neuroscientists Floyd Bloom of the Scripps Research Institute and Michael Kalichman of the University of California, San Diego, and the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology.
by Anne Hammock
December 30, 2009
Brain-computer interfaces are becoming more advanced, helping people with brain-related disorders and opening up possibilities for enhancing healthy brains. The latter raise neuroethical concerns, researchers note.
by Katherine Ellison
Accompanying news about the first federally funded study of neurofeedback, this article points out that practitioners and equipment are loosely regulated. "The analogy I use is there's a difference between a butcher and a neurosurgeon," one psychologist/practitioner says. "The butcher has a few rudimentary skills, but to know what to do and what not to do with the brain requires diagnostic and more-advanced skills."
The use of deep brain stimulation to treat disorders of mood and behavior is delicate in the wake of past controversies over surgical treatments for mental illness, says Peter V. Rabins of Johns Hopkins University. Rabins participated in a 2007 conference that generated recommendations regarding informed consent, use in children and other concerns.
by Jens Clausen
The author of this commentary notes that as brain-machine interfaces become more widespread, ethical concerns are arising. Similar concerns that stemmed from existing therapies and techniques provide precedents, he argues.
by Gail Johnson
An article in a weekly newspaper looks at neuroethics research and neuroethical challenges. "The questions are huge, and as to the answers, there’s not a consensus," says Judy Illes, head of the National Core for Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia.
by Syd M. Johnson
At a neuroethics conference in Nova Scotia, panelists advised taking claims about neurotherapy and brain imaging with a grain of salt.
by Russell A. Poldrack, Ph.D.
Researchers and news reports sometimes exaggerate findings from brain imaging, and we should regard “breakthroughs" with caution, writes an experienced interpreter of brain scans.
by Aalok Mehta
New insights into the death process do not invalidate the commonly used neurological standard, according to a new white paper being discussed March 12 and 13 at a meeting of the President’s Council on Bioethics
. But not everyone agrees with the paper’s conclusions.
The field of neuroethics treats an array of issues, including asking where do we draw the line on manipulating brain function? In this podcast, Judy Illes, Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics and Professor of Neurology at the University of British Columbia, offers some background on the neural maze of science and ethics. Part of our Gray Matters
by Aalok Mehta
Neuroscience-based methods of lie detection already may have passed the test of public acceptance, but whether they work is still an open question in the scientific community. The growing disparity between public and scientific understanding of “forensic neuroscience” was one of several pressing issues that brought nearly 200 people to Washington, D.C., for the annual meeting of the Neuroethics Society.
by Richard J. Bonnie, J.D., Donna T. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., and Charles P. O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D.
With neuroscience on the threshold of major advances in the pharmacological management of addiction, Richard J. Bonnie, Donna T. Chen and Charles P. O’Brien consider the ethical and legal implications of different methods for administering one successful drug, injectable naltrexone, to convicted drug offenders.
Q&A with Martha Farah
by Aalok Mehta
Some companies are rushing to cash in on promising but unproved neuroscience developments, including offering truth detection, reading tutors and brain exercisers. Martha Farah, director for the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, describes how that might not be good news for consumers. Part of a series featuring speakers at the Neuroethics Society annual meeting, Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C.
by Aalok Mehta
Sophisticated neuroimaging techniques allow scientists to delve into how the brain makes mystical experience possible and what happens to the brain during a religious episode.
Donald Pfaff, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at Rockefeller University, gives us a science-based hypothesis of why humans across time and geography have such similar notions of right and wrong.
by Jim Schnabel
Neuromarketers claim that by using high-tech imaging to study the brain’s reactions directly, they can get information that's more detailed and reliable than traditional surveys and focus groups—and so sell more to more consumers. The Nielsen Company, which provides the famous “Nielsen ratings,” has just bought in. Should the rest of us?
by Guy McKhann, M.D
Brain researchers must be cognizant not just of the neuroethical implications of their work, but also of the ethical issues in their own professional behavior.
More evidence suggests that brain dysfunction can compromise free will
by Tom Valeo
Researchers at University College London have detected an impulse control area of the frontal lobes by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Their work adds to the debate over how much "free will" is a matter of brain matter and how much is a matter of self-control.
by Ben Mauk
Neuroethicist Michael Gazzaniga shows a D.C. audience the links between brain and courtroom, including the validity of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, the difficulties of diagnosing minimally conscious states and the neuroscience behind behavioral biases that can affect evidence in a trial.
the first neurocience podcast coproduced by Nature
and the Dana Foundation, includes segments on what brain imaging really tells us, anaesthetics that don't cause paralysis, learning under stress and how brain research is changing the face of warfare—featuring the Dana Foundation’s trans-Atlantic Mind Wars discussion
. (On the Nature site linked from the headline, look for the podcast under “October 2007.”)
Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman,M.D., discusses ethics and policy issues raised by advances in brain science.
Essential Readings in Neuroethics
by Walter Glannon, Ph. D., editor
Contributors include Adina Roskies on neuroethics for the New millennium, Martha J. Farah and Paul Root Wolpe on monitoring and manipulating brain function, Antonio Damasio on the neural basis of social behavior, and Alan Leshner on ethical issues in taking neuroscience research from bench to bedside.