Frequently Asked Questions
What is neuroethics?
Neuroethics is a field that studies the social, legal, philosophical, and ethical implications of brain research. Neuroscience is progressing at a tremendous pace and with these developments are new questions about how that research could or should be applied.
What are some examples of neuroethics?
As we understand better the circuitry and molecular biology of how the brain’s memory systems work, the next step might be to think about drugs to help us remember better. This could appeal to students seeking better grades. Drugs that could enhance athletic performance might be attractive to people seeking a competitive advantage. Ethical issues arise, when we begin to consider whether these drugs should be available, to whom, under what circumstances, and whether they are even safe and effective, or how their use would affect the way we view the value of education and sport in our culture. There also might be consequences for social policy. For example, understanding how a child’s brain develops could inform educational policy and impact a child’s educational potential.
Another example is the potential to use neuroscience to design neurotoxins (nerve agents) that disrupt memory or alter brain functions in other ways, which would be formidable bioweapons.
Ethical dilemmas also arise when we think about brain imaging techniques that could make it possible to tell when someone is lying, or make assumptions about sanity or guilt in criminals with different brain characteristics. There are also questions about the use of brain imaging in the workplace and marketing experts are using neuroscience studies to find ways to influence the way we make decisions and purchases.
What are the differences between neuroethics and traditional bioethics?
The brain makes us who we are. Therefore, there is a special case for ethics related to the brain and nervous systems. Bioethics covers ethical issues arising from general medicine and science. Neuroethics and bioethics overlap sometimes; for example, when seeking informed consent from people with cognitive impairments, who have difficulty understanding. Neuroethics covers a wide territory, for example:
How is neuroethics relevant to the daily lives of most people?
Many aspects of our daily lives can be thought about more deeply in the context of advances in neuroscience. Some examples include:
How can I find out more about neuroethics?
How did the INS get started?
Who has spoken at your annual meetings and what did they talk about?
Below are links to the various speakers and topics they discussed at our past annual meetings:
Why join INS?
If you care about open and fluid dialogue about the broader implications of brain research, this is the organization for you. You will join a growing group of neuroscientists, clinicians, ethicists, policy makers, philosophers, and lawyers and judges. INS is a place to view and discuss the frameworks and perspectives of issues in neuroethics as well as the incredible developments in brain research that could help millions of people around the world.
Who can belong?
Anyone (including students) whose work or interests are in the field of neuroethics or related to the social, legal, ethical, philosophical and/or policy implications of advances in neuroscience.
Scientists, including researchers and clinicians, lawyers, philosophers, entrepreneurs and executives, are just a few examples. You can find out the kind of people who have joined by checking out our Executive Committee and Governing Board. http://www.neuroethicssociety.org/governance
The complete list of members is available when you join.
What does it cost?
Regular membership ($60) is for individuals whose work or interests are in the field of neuroethics or related to the social, legal, ethical and policy implications of advances in neuroscience.
Student membership ($30) is for students enrolled in a degree program in a field relevant to neuroethics.