2011 INS Annual Meeting in Washington DC


The 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Neuroethics Society was held on November 10 and 11 at the Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20005.  To view photos from the meeting, please follow this link.


Schedule Overview with Videos


Break-Out Groups:

Teaching Neuroethics – Martha Farah, Bennett Foddy, Emily Bell

Last year we reviewed some of the challenges of teaching neuroethics in a university level course, and shared teaching tips and resources.  This year we will warm up with a new panel of neuroethics instructors offering updates on last year’s material, and then move on to some discussion and debate on the role of neuroethics in academe.  Does it make sense to offer degree programs in neuroethics – Masters degrees or undergraduate majors?  What about minors?  Could undergraduate neuroethics be the basis for a 21st century “physics for poets” or “rocks for jocks”? 


Neuroethics Careers – Alan Leshner, Hank Greely, Paul Wolpe, Emily Murphy

 “I want to be a neuroethicist.”  You may have some idea what that means, but few other people do.  Neuroethics is a new field with no set career path. Some senior scholars will talk about how they, and you, can develop careers in neuroethics. 


Funding – Kathleen Michels, John Wingfield

 How do you get your brilliant neuroethics research idea funded?  What are the best federal agencies and foundations for neuroethics grants?  Seasoned federal and foundation representatives will review the funding landscape for neuroethics. 


International Neuroethics Society/Society for Social Neuroscience Panel  

Social knowledge and the evolution of cooperation in monkeys and apes -           

Dorothy Cheney, Robert Seyfarth, University of Pennsylvania - S4SN

Pat Churchland, University of California, San Diego - INS

Do animals have moral cognition?  Do they engage in behaviors that seem to include moral considerations?  And if so, what implications might it have for human beings?  Come hear Dorothy Cheney & Robert Seyfarth of the University of Pennsylvania talk about their work with baboons, with a response by Patricia Churchland of UCSD.


Reception/Poster Presentation


Neuroscience, National Security, and Society Panel

Moderator:  Fabrice Jotterand   

Military applications of neurotechnologies and neuropharmacological drugs provide ways to enhance soldiers’ performances. These applications include, among others, 1) devices for the manipulation of  brain regions associated with moral sensibility in order to change the moral profile of soldiers in combat situations; 2) “aug-cog” (augmented cognition) whose applications seek the development non-invasive devises to extract neural patterns in subjects to detect intentions such as “subconscious recognition” of threat in combat situations; 3) targeted brain stimulation to enhance cognitive abilities (“cognitive tune-up”) and 4) sleep deprivation while maintaining cognitive performance intact. These are only few examples that could soon become (or already are) available to the public. But as with other emerging technologies, important ethical, legal and social issues need to be addressed within the public sphere before broad acceptance of these neurotechnologies. There is the potential for unrealistic expectations, abuse and misuse.


In addition, the transition from military applications to public consumption raises an important issue with regard to the ability of critically evaluate the implications of these emerging neurotechnologies without compromising national security. There is an inherent tension between the need for transparency toward the public and the need to conceal sensitive information /technologies to enhance national defense. How to draw this fine line is crucial to keep soldiers in harm’s way but also to enhance the social good that might come out of these emerging neurotechnologies. Panelists Jonathan Moreno, William Casebeer and James Giordano addressed these issues in this video.


Technology and Humanity:  A Neuroethics Perspective

Michael Chorost 

As we contemplate the ethical and social implications of incorporating technologies into our bodies, and especially into our brains, this video features someone who has actually had that experience.  Michael Chorost has written books about his life as a deaf man getting cochlear implants.  He speaks about living the experience of being a cyborg.


Neuroethics and novel treatments in Psychiatry Panel

Moderator: Barbara Sahakian 

Neuroscience has been critical to the understanding of the brain in health and disease and in developing more accurate diagnosis and new treatment across the lifespan. This panel discusses important novel treatments for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, together with the ethical issues that may arise from such treatments. It also considers a vision for what holistic treatment might look like in the future.


The first speaker, Husseini Manji, discusses new holistic approaches by pharmaceutical companies such as Janssen/Johnson & Johnson towards mental health. He also talks about some of the ethical issues that may arise in the use of neuroprotective agents for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, such as early detection and screening of elderly people. The second speaker, Helen Mayberg discusses the neuroethical issues of chronic debilitating conditions such as depression and the impact that these conditions have on the brain and functional outcome. She also discusses the possibility of deep brain stimulation when drugs are no longer successful in the treatment of the depression. She will further consider the new role that medical and device companies may have in terms of providing a comprehensive approach to improving mental wellbeing and the role of adjunct rehabilitation. The final speaker, Jorge Moll discusses novel approaches for non-invasive neuromodulation, with a focus on functional MRI neurofeedback. This emerging technology will potentially allow scientists and clinicians to interfere with brain networks involved in complex psychological states, including empathic feelings and anger, with possible applications to neuropsychiatric conditions such as conduct disorder, psychopathy and front temporal dementia. However, modulating complex emotional responses in these patient groups, and the possibility of unknown effects (e.g., brain plasticity, cognitive-emotional "distortions"?) will raise a number of ethical questions.


Real Cases in Law and Neuroscience:  Reports from the Trenches

Moderator:  Hank Greely  

In the last nine years, hundreds of articles and book chapters have been published about law and neuroscience.  Almost all of these have looked at theoretical issues in philosophy, criminal justice, constitutional law, and other areas, considering what might happen when or if neuroscience becomes deeply involved in the legal system.  During that same period, though, a few cases involving neuroscience have begun to reach the legal system.  This panel focuses on those real cases, with three people who have had direct experience with them.   The goal is to bring to neuroethicists some insight into the way that lawyers and physicians faced with real cases have thought about them.


We first hear from Steve Greenberg, the defense counsel who introduced fMRI evidence into a capital sentencing hearing in Illinois.  (See the report on this case in Nature 464:340 2010).   Russell Swerdlow, the neurologist who was a treating physician in the Virginia case of a man whose pedophilic tendencies came and went with a tumor in his brain, this offers his experience.  (See Arch. Neuro. 60:437 2003).  Finally, Gordon Houston, counsel for the defendant in United States v. Semrau (See Science 328:1336 2010), talks about the real world issues involved in trying to introduce fMRI-lie detection in court.  


Check Out Photos from the Annual Meeting Here