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Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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:
Many aspects of our daily lives can be thought about more deeply in the context of advances in neuroscience. Some examples include:
Check out all of the annual meeting information from the “Annual Meeting” tab on our homepage, http://www.neuroethicssociety.org/
Five podcasts were conducted with 2008 meeting speakers: Martha Farah, Turhan Canli, Judy Illes, Hank Greely, and INS President, Steven Hyman. http://www.neuroethicssociety.org/2008-meeting-archive Clicking on the link will open up an mp3 file of the interview.
All of the 2011 panels can be viewed in videos here http://www.neuroethicssociety.org/2011-meeting-archive
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.
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.
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.