Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Is memory enhancement right around the corner?

By Ryan Purcell

“Everyone has had the experience of struggling to remember long lists of items or complicated directions to get somewhere,” Dr. Justin Sanchez of DARPA said in a recent press release. “Today we are discovering how implantable neurotechnologies can facilitate the brain’s performance of these functions.” The US Department of Defense is interested in how the brain forms memories because hundreds of thousands of soldiers – or “warfighters” as they are now called – have suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and some have severe memory problems. Beyond the military, TBI is a major public health concern that affects millions of Americans as patients and caregivers and is incredibly expensive. A breakthrough treatment is needed and for that, ambitious research is required.

But does this research agenda end at treating disease, or could these findings also be applied to memory enhancement goals?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Meet Tomorrow's World: A Meeting on the Ethics of Emerging Technologies

By Marcello Ienca

Marcello Ienca, M.Sc., M.A., is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, Switzerland. His current projects include the assessment of intelligent assistive technologies for people with dementia and other neurocognitive disabilities, the regulation of pervasive neurotechnology, and the neurosecurity of human-machine interfaces. He is the chair of the Student/Postdoc Committee of the International Neuroethics Society and the current coordinator of the Swiss Network for Neuroscience, Ethics and Law.

Technology is rapidly reshaping the world we live in. In the past few decades, mankind has not significantly changed biologically, but human societies have undergone continuous and unprecedented developments through technological innovation. Today, most human activities—from messaging to geolocation, from financial transactions to medical therapies— are computer-mediated. In the next decades, the quantity and variety of activities mediated by digital technology is bound to increase exponentially. In parallel, with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and microcomputing, the friction between man and machine is set to vanish and the boundaries at the human-machine interface are bound to blur. In an attempt to anticipate our technological futures as well as their impact on our societies and our systems of values, the International Neuroethics Society (jointly with the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, the Science Collaboratory of the University of California, San Diego, and the National Science Foundation) sponsored a public event on the Ethics of Emerging Technologies as part of the 2016 annual INS meeting in San Diego, California. The event was organized by INS President Judy Illes, INS Executive Director Karen Graham, Dr. Rachel Wurzman of the INS Public Session Program Committee and Prof. Andrea Chiba, Dr. Roger Bingham and Prof. Deborah Forster of UCSD. A panel of international experts in various areas of science and ethics gathered in San Diego on November 9 to discuss various critical issues emerging at the human-machine interface with possible disruptive implications for ethics and society. The first perspective was provided by Dr. William D. Casebeer, career intelligence analyst and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. His short talk proposed an interesting analogy between pervasive technology and the art of storytelling to show how technology could be actually used, in the near future, to raise empathy, deliver personalized experiences and facilitate human interaction.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Inflammation might be causing depression": Stigma of mental illness, reductionism, and (mis-)representations of science

by Katie Givens Kime

Image courtesy of Flickr
Is depression a Kind of Allergic Reaction?” Provocative headlines like these appear throughout popular media. Besides misrepresenting scientific findings, such journalistic coverage impacts perceptions of mental illness, as well as expectations of those seeking treatment. In last month’s Neuroethics in the News talk, Dr. Jennifer Felger, from Emory’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, shared her experiences and insights on the translation (and mistranslation) of research by journalists. In relating the story of her own interactions with the media, Felger emphasized the complex and varying transactional relationships between journalists and scientists. The impact of such coverage carries notable neuroethical dimensions, potentially affecting the capacity for agency and/or aspects of a sense of self for a person experiencing mental illness.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"American Horror Story" in Real Life: Understanding Racialized Views of Mental Illness and Stigma

By Sunidhi Ramesh

Racial and ethnic discrimination have taken various forms in the
United States since its formation as a nation. The sign in the image
reads: "Deport all Iranians. Get the hell out of my country."
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
From 245 years of slavery to indirect racism in police sanctioning and force, minority belittlement has remained rampant in American society (1). There is no doubt that this history has left minorities in the United States with a differential understanding of what it means to be American and, more importantly, what it means to be an individual in a larger humankind.

Generally, our day-to-day experiences shape the values, beliefs, and attitudes that allow us to navigate the real world (2). And so, with regards to minorities, consistent exposure to these subjective experiences (of belittlement and discrimination, for example) can begin to shape subjective perceptions that, in turn, can mold larger perspectives and viewpoints.

Last spring, I conducted a project for a class to address the reception (3) of white and non-white, or persons of color (POC), students to part of an episode from American Horror Story: Freak Show. The video I asked them to watch portrays a mentally incapacitated woman, Pepper, who is wrongfully framed for the murder of her sister’s child. The character’s blatant scapegoating is shocking not only for the lack of humanity it portrays but also for the reality of being a human being in society while not being viewed as human.

Although the episode remains to be somewhat of an exaggeration, the opinions of the interview respondents in my project ultimately suggested that there exists a racial basis of perceiving the mental disabilities of Pepper—a racial basis that may indeed be deeply rooted in the racial history of the United States.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Debating the Replication Crisis - Why Neuroethics Needs to Pay Attention

By Ben Wills

Ben Wills studied Cognitive Science at Vassar College, where his thesis examined cognitive neuroscience research on the self. He is currently a legal assistant at a Portland, Oregon law firm, where he continues to hone his interests at the intersections of brain, law, and society.

In 2010 Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap published a study showing that assuming an expansive posture, or “power pose,” leads to increased testosterone levels, task performance, and self-confidence. The popular media and public swooned at the idea that something as simple as standing like Wonder Woman could boost performance and confidence. A 2012 TED talk that author Amy Cuddy gave on her research has become the site’s second-most watched video, with over 37 million views. Over the past year and change, however, the power pose effect has gradually fallen out of favor in experimental psychology. A 2015 meta-analysis of power pose studies by Ranehill et al. concluded that power posing affects only self-reported feelings of power, not hormone levels or performance. This past September, reflecting mounting evidence that power pose effects are overblown, co-author Dana Carney denounced the construct, stating, “I do not believe that ‘power pose’ effects are real.”

What happened?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The 2016 Kavli Futures Symposium: Ethical foundations of Novel Neurotechnologies: Identity, Agency and Normality

By Sean Batir (1), Rafael Yuste (1), Sara Goering (2), and Laura Specker Sullivan (2)

Image from Kavli Futures Symposium
(1) Neurotechnology Center, Kavli Institute of Brain Science, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027

(2) Department of Philosophy, and Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

Detailed biographies for each author are located at the end of this post

Often described as the “two cultures,” few would deny the divide between the humanities and the sciences. This divide must be broken down if humanistic progress is to be made in the future of transformative technologies. The 2016 Kavli Futures Symposium held by Dr. Rafael Yuste and Dr. Sara Goering at the Neurotechnology Center of Columbia University addressed the divide between the humanities and sciences by curating an interdisciplinary dialogue between leading neuroscientists, neural engineers, and bioethicists across three broad topics of conversation. These three topics include conversations on identity and mind reading, agency and brain stimulation, and definitions of normality in the context of brain enhancement. The message of such an event is clear: dialogue between neurotechnology and ethics is necessary because the novel neurotechnologies are poised to generate a profound transformation in our society.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On the ethics of machine learning applications in clinical neuroscience

By Philipp Kellmeyer

Dr. med. Philipp Kellmeyer, M.D., M.Phil. (Cantab) is a board-certified neurologist working as postdoctoral researcher in the Intracranial EEG and Brain Imaging group at the University of Freiburg Medical Center, German. His current projects include the preparation of a clinical trial for using a wireless brain-computer interface to restore communication in severely paralyzed patients. In neuroethics, he works on ethical issues of emerging neurotechnologies. He is a member of the Rapid Action Task Force of the International Neuroethics Society and the Advisory Committee of the Neuroethics Network.

What is machine learning, you ask? 
As a brief working definition up front: machine learning refers to software that can learn from experience and is thus particularly good at extracting knowledge from data and for generating predictions [1]. Recently, one particularly powerful variant called deep learning has become the staple of much of recent progress (and hype) in applied machine learning. Deep learning uses biologically inspired artificial neural networks with many processing stages (hence the word "deep"). These deep networks, together with the ever-growing computing power and larger datasets for learning, now deliver groundbreaking performances at many tasks. For example, Google’s AlphaGo program that comprehensively beat a Go champion in January 2016 uses deep learning algorithms for reinforcement learning (analyzing 30 million Go moves and playing against itself). Despite these spectacular (and media-friendly) successes, however, the interaction between humans and algorithms may also go badly awry.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Good Death: Towards Alternative Dementia Personhoods

By Melissa Liu

Melissa is a Medical Anthropology PhD student at the U. of Washington, Seattle. Her nascent research circles the intersection of neuroscience, dementia, and design. Melissa is also a Neuroethics Fellow with the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, an NSF ERC.  

Something is amiss. Why is there a neighborhood of houses within this assisted living facility? Why do all the houses in the neighborhood have the same 1950s design? Am I standing on carpet? It looks like a garden path. The ceiling feels like a sunset in real time. [1] Where am I? When is this? The questions above are inspired by Lantern, one of several memory care facilities in Ohio based on a patent-pending memory care program created by Jean Makesh where rehabilitation is the goal [2] [3]. However, many more models around the world are based on Reminiscence therapy, a type of therapy which technically has “[no] single definition” but generally “[involves] the recalling of early life events and interaction between individuals” [4]. Research shows that “Reminiscence therapy is used extensively in dementia care and evidence shows when used effectively it helps individuals retain a sense of self-worth, identity and individuality” [4].

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Zombethics 2016: (in)visible disabilities and troubling normality

By Shweta Sahu

Zombethics Case Graphic 
With Halloween just around the corner, zombies and other atypical creatures are much on our minds, but such constructs are rarely thought of from an ethical perspective. This year, on October 26th at 5:30 pm at the Center for Ethics, 1531 Dickey Drive, Ethics Commons Room 102, Emory Center for Ethics is collaborating with Emory Integrity Project (EIP) to boggle your mind with ethical considerations and encourage you to consider how students should engage across (in)visible differences at Emory. The discussion will be based around three interesting case studies which can be found here. These scenarios will lead to questions such as, ‘should people ask others what gender pronouns they prefer to be associated with, even if the answer may seem “obvious” at first glance.’ On the other hand, what are the implications of assuming non-visible disability based on a person’s behaviors or appearance? The goal of the symposium will be to help participants handle controversial issues like these and to guide them to effectively deal with such situations.

To find out more about the event, I spoke with coordinator Dr. Paul Wolpe from the Emory Center for Ethics as well as Ms. Emily Lorino and Dr. Rebecca Taylor from the Emory Integrity Project, and Dr. Karen Rommelfanger, chair of the Zombethics® conference series. Here’s what I asked:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Racial Biases in Face Judgment- When You “Look” Criminal

By Carlie Hoffman

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Racial bias can, and often does, occur in several elements of the criminal justice process, including on initial police contact, during eye-witness identification, and in jurors’ decisions. This disparity of how people are treated throughout the justice system is likely influenced by the criminal black male stereotype that pervades our American culture (1). Some propose that this stereotype originated in the slavery and post-slavery eras, with the onset of Jim Crow laws and other post-slavery codes that instigated segregation and also sanctioned racially-biased punishments for blacks, and especially for black males. Racially-biased punishments are still present today, with a 2015 article in Slate magazine citing that black Americans are more likely to have their cars searched, to be arrested for drug use, to be jailed while awaiting a trial, and to serve longer sentences for the same offense as white Americans.

The presence of racial bias in the criminal justice system is irrefutable, and investigation into the elements fueling this bias has recently moved into the realm of neuroscience. In last month’s Neuroethics and Neuroscience in the News talk, Dr. Heather Kleider-Offutt from Georgia State University explained that not all black men are stereotyped in the same way. Instead, certain black men are subject to a higher degree of negative bias than other black men, and inclusion in this select subgroup is based on face-type and not skin color alone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rethinking Irreversibility and Its Implications on Determining Death

By Alex Lin

Alex Lin is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University pursuing a dual degree in Biological Sciences and Philosophy. As an aspiring physician, he is interested in medical ethics and runs the Rutgers Bioethics Society alongside a diverse team of student thinkers. Alex is from Paramus, New Jersey, and volunteers as an emergency medical technician for his community.

Death, by definition, is irreversible. The notion of irreversibility is a central component of the current standards of death, cardiopulmonary and neurological alike. Given that the neurological criteria−the irreversible cessation of whole brain function−is the legally recognized criterion of death in many countries, including the United States [1], forthcoming advancements in neurotechnology under the BRAIN Initiative will be crucial to the accurate determination of death. With the development of technologies that allow scientists to study how individual neurons interact in significantly greater detail, questions emerge concerning the particular moment of truly irreversible total brain failure.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Prescribing the Placebo Effect

By Sarika Sachdeva

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016. 

Sarika Sachdeva is an undergraduate junior at Emory studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Economics. She is involved with research on stimulant abuse and addiction under Dr. Leonard Howell at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. 

In 2006, Dr. Ted Kaptchuk designed a clinical drug trial to evaluate a new pain pill in patients with severe arm pain. Participants in the study were assigned to receive either the pill or an acupuncture treatment for several weeks. Dr. Kaptchuk found that the people who received acupuncture ended up with more pain relief than those who had taken the pain pill. This difference was surprising, not because the pain pill was expected to be more effective, but because neither treatment was real- the pain pills contained cornstarch and the acupuncture was done with false needles that never pierced the skin.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Guilty or Not Guilty: Policy Considerations for Using Neuroimaging as Evidence in Courts

By Sunidhi Ramesh

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016. 

Sunidhi Ramesh, an Atlanta native, is a third year student at Emory University where she is double majoring in Sociology and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and holds a deep interest in sparking conversation and change around her, particularly in regards to pressing social matters and how education in America is both viewed and handled. In her spare time, Sunidhi is a writer, bridge player, dancer, and violinist.

 In 1893, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes opened his World’s Fair Hotel to the world [1].

But what his guests did not know was that the basement was filled with jars of poison, boxes of bones, and large surgical tables. Chutes from the guest rooms existed only to slide bodies into a pile downstairs. In the few months that the hotel was open for the public, Holmes, dubbed America’s first serial killer, killed an estimated number of 200 guests. Two years later, he was put on trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death [1].

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Predictive Power of Neuroimaging

By Ethan Morris

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016. 

Ethan Morris is an undergraduate senior at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in History. Ethan is a member of the Dilks Lab at Emory and is a legislator on the Emory University Student Government Association. Ethan is from Denver, Colorado and loves to ski.   

Background and Current Research

Neuroscience is a rapidly burgeoning field that is increasingly facing complex issues as scientists learn more about the human brain and by extension, about personal identity. One technology that has gained attention in the last two decades is brain imaging, a technique that uses various tools to evaluate the brain’s functional response to the world. Some of the more commonly used brain imaging devices are functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), both of which measure blood flow (albeit by different mechanisms) through the brain. These blood flow results show which areas of the brain are metabolically active, and are thus activated by the task at hand. Using these devices, researchers can determine the activity of certain brain regions associated with certain types of sensory and perceptual processing, as well as cognitive function.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Neuroimaging in Predicting and Detecting Neurodegenerative Diseases and Mental Disorders

By Anayelly Medina

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Anayelly is a Senior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. 

If your doctor told you they could determine whether or not you would develop a neurodegenerative disease or mental disorder in the future through a brain scan, would you undergo the process? Detecting the predisposition to or possible development of disorders or diseases not only in adults but also in fetuses through genetic testing (i.e. preimplantation genetics) has been a topic of continued discussion and debate [2]. Furthermore, questions regarding the ethical implications of predictive genetic testing have been addressed by many over the past years [4,8]. However, more recently, neuroimaging and its possible use in detecting predispositions to neurodegenerative diseases as well as mental disorders has come to light. The ethical questions raised by the use of predictive neuroimaging technologies are similar to those posed by predictive genetic testing; nevertheless, given that the brain is the main structure analyzed and affected by these neurodegenerative and mental disorders, different questions (from those posed by predictive genetic testing) have also surfaced.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Stain of the Spotless Mind: Policy Recommendations for Memory Erasure

By Peter Leistikow

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Peter Leistikow is an undergraduate student at Emory University studying Neuroscience and Sociology. When he is not doing research in pharmacology, Peter works as a volunteer Advanced EMT in the student-run Emory Emergency Medical Service.

Over the course of 15 years, psychologist Dan McAdams studied how Americans describe their lives. Specifically, McAdams wanted to know what kind of life narratives were associated with lives high in “generativity;” that is, a concern for and commitment to promoting the well-being of future generations. He ultimately discovered that generative adults had narrative identities that emphasized redemption, such as a second chance or delivery from suffering (McAdams 2006).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Corner on the Neuromarket

By Sol Lee

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sol Lee studies Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University. As a pre-med student, he is enthusiastic about primary care and global health concerns. Sol is currently doing research on glutamate receptors in Parkinson’s Disease in the Smith Lab.

Ever since its inception in 2002 [1], neuromarketing has been a rapidly developing and highly controversial field. Neuromarketing employs neuroscience research in order to advertise products and services and is primarily utilized by companies to better understand the brain’s responses to marketing stimuli and advertising [2]. Methods include analysis of galvanic skin response, which can be used to measure stress, and eye tracking, which measures eye location and movement. Common medical research techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by detecting changes in cerebral blood flow, and electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain, are also utilized [3]. With these techniques, neuromarketing promises to create advertising methods that are more impactful and enticing. Although neuromarketing holds much potential in this regard, there are concerns about the ethical implications of this emerging field. Concerns about neuromarketing include the potential for deceptive consumer coercion, infringement of consumer privacy rights, complicating legal ramifications, and inappropriate weighting of private versus public interests. This paper will attempt to address concerns about neuromarketing and propose guidelines for a proper course of action.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Placebo as Therapy: Context, Ethics, and Recommendations

By Somnath Das

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

I am a Senior at Emory University and am currently pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Currently, I am applying to medical school. My interest in healthcare lies primarily in understanding the behavioral motivations of patients as they navigate through various healthcare systems. I also wish to study how to effectively translate innovations powered by biomedical research into accurate health information for patients and optimized healthcare delivery. Neuroethics allows me to focus these interests onto patient dignity and rights when considering the role novel therapeutics and interventions in treatment. Studying this fascinating field has given me a perspective on the role deontological considerations play in both neuroscience and medicine as a whole. It is with this perspective that I hope to approach my patients with a balanced worldview, taking into account both individual rights as well as stakeholders and developers participating in a rapidly changing field. 

Placebo therapy is broadly characterized as the administration of an agent that possesses a physiologically inert effect. However, current research suggests that placebo in fact has observable therapeutic outcomes across a wide spectrum of disorders. Thus, placebo’s efficacy should be investigated thoroughly by researchers, ethicists, and physicians in order to evaluate and develop protocols to implement placebo therapy in an effective manner. It is necessary that researchers communicate to physicians and clinicians about the efficacy and rigor by which research has quantified placebo’s effect. In addition, training protocols must be developed such that physicians can safely implement placebo therapy in practice. Finally, the ethics of placebo should be carefully considered; a calculation of placebo ethics is presented in tandem with policy recommendations in this document.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Digital Immortality of the Future – Or, Advancements in Brain Emulation Research

By Kathy Bui

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Kathy Bui is a 4th year undergraduate at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Psychology. She hopes to pursue a PhD in neurobiology after graduation. Her current interests include social justice topics of class disparities and human health rights. 

Introduction: “How do you want to be remembered?” 

The fear of our looming death has haunted us since human life began. It’s not hard to believe that the quest of human immortality has not changed since Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality in 22nd century BC. However, with the technological strides in conjunction with ambitious billionaires, the cure to death may be closer than we think. Life expectancy has been steadily increasing over decades, and yet, Americans seem to look forward to the inevitable prospect of immortality. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 44% of Americans would want to extend their life to age 120 if given the opportunity [1, 2].

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Embodied Cognition: What it means to "Throw like a Girl"

By Jenn Lee

Jenn Laura Lee is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at New York University. Her scattered neuroethics projects involve advancing harms reduction policies for illicit drug use and re-evaluating the ethics of animal experimentation.

While I tell myself now that I’m just “not the athletic type,” the reality is that I might have been. Back in middle school, I recall actually really enjoying track and field, basketball, and soccer. But at just the age when girls reach peak athletic shape, a socially-imposed understanding of “femininity” begins to forge a new, contrived relationship between one’s self and one’s body.

The rehearsal of gendered social performances run deep enough to mould even our most basic bodily movements. In Throwing like a Girl, Iris Young dissects this phenomenon through the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (who was, coincidentally, one of Simone de Beauvoir’s first romantic interests).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Neuroethics Network and DBS

By Ethan Morris

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Ethan Morris is a rising undergraduate senior at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in History. Ethan is a member of the Dilks Lab at Emory and is a legislator on the Emory University Student Government Association. Ethan is from Denver, Colorado and loves to ski.  

One thought-provoking panel at the Paris Neuroethics Network discussed deep-brain stimulation, or DBS. DBS is a relatively novel treatment in which surgeons implant an electrode deep within the brain. When the electrode is turned on, it produces a current that has been shown to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Various studies have provided compelling evidence that DBS may also be an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, especially when other treatment options are exhausted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“It’s like it’s not her anymore.”

By Sunidhi Ramesh

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sunidhi Ramesh, an Atlanta native, is entering her third year at Emory University where she is double majoring in Sociology and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and holds a deep interest in sparking conversation and change around her, particularly in regards to pressing social matters and how education in America is both viewed and handled. In her spare time, Sunidhi is a writer, bridge player, dancer, and violinist.

Picture this. A patient struggling with depression for almost twenty years undergoes her last resort treatment: deep brain stimulation (DBS). It is radical, invasive— somewhat new of a procedure to the point where only a few surgeons are skilled enough to perform it. But she decides to go through with it. And when it’s over, she can smile again, find motivation again. She feels brand new.

But her family isn’t so optimistic. This isn’t the woman they waved goodbye to before the surgery. This woman is different. It’s like it’s not her anymore.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Identity Crisis: The Unintended Consequence of Deep Brain Stimulation

By Alec Shannon


This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Alec Shannon is a rising third year student at Emory University where he is majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and minoring in French Studies. On campus, he serves as the president of the French Club and vice president of the Emory Undergraduate Medical Review. During the school year, he also dedicates his time playing for the tennis club and projects with Volunteer Emory. He currently works in a movement disorders lab in Emory’s Department of Pharmacology and plans on pursuing a career in medicine.

This summer’s Neuroethics Network Session facilitated a cross-disciplinary conversation on complex questions that the field of neuroscience will be forced to answer in the near future. Although some issues in neuroethics might appear purely speculative, the rapid advancement of technology emerging from neuroscience will require policy-makers to preemptively govern its development. The consequences of these regulations will resonate throughout society and determine how neuroscience will be integrated into professional fields ranging from law enforcement to psychiatry. Individual lectures from experts in these fields explored the ethics of emerging technologies and analyzed how they align with our shared values of society.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Smarter Artificial Intelligence: A Not So Obvious Choice

By Shray Ambe



This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

My name is Shray Ambe and I am a rising senior at Emory University. I am a Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology major who is pursuing a career in the medical field. Outside of the classroom, I am involved in organizing the booth for Emory’s Center for The Study of Human Health at the Atlanta Science Festival Expo every year and also enjoy volunteering at the Emory Autism Center and the Radiology Department at Emory University Hospital. 

At the 2016 Neuroethics Network in Paris, France, bioethicist and philosopher John Harris gave a lecture titled “How Smart Do We Want Machines to Be?” During his lecture, Harris discussed the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) and stated “it doesn’t matter how smart they are; obviously the smarter the better.” But is smarter AI really “obviously” better? 

Renowned American inventor Ray Kurzweil has described the use of AI as the beginning of a “beautiful new era” in which machines will have the insight and patience to solve outstanding problems of nanotechnology and spaceflight, improve the human condition, and allow us to upload our consciousness into an immortal digital form, thus spreading intelligence throughout the cosmos. Kurzweil’s views on AI extoll the virtues of such technology and its potential to enhance the human race with its endless possibilities. However, his views also raise concerns about how such technology can not only be detrimental to the human condition, but also put its very existence at risk. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Morality and Machines

By Peter Leistikow 

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Peter Leistikow is an undergraduate student at Emory University studying Neuroscience and Sociology. When he is not doing research in pharmacology, Peter works as a volunteer Advanced EMT in the student-run Emory Emergency Medical Service. 

“Repeat after me, Hitler did nothing wrong.” So claimed Chatbot Tay, designed by Microsoft to speak like a teenage girl and to learn from the input of the humans of the Internet (Goodhill 2016). However, Tay’s programming was hijacked by other Twitter users, who encouraged her to repeat various offensive statements. Given that the average teenage girl is not a Nazi apologist, Tay and her creators clearly missed the mark, creating a machine that was neither true to life nor moral. A machine’s ability to inadvertently become immoral was at the back of my mind during the Neuroethics Network session that asked how smart we want machines to be. Indeed, as one commentator during the question-and-answer portion pointed out, what seems to be the real focus when we ask that question is how moral we want machines to be. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Age of Artificial Intelligence: Beneficial Advancement or Disastrous Uncertainty

By Sang Xayasouk


This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sang Xayasouk is entering her fourth year at Emory University where she is majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and minoring in Comparative Literature. She is currently a member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and a research assistant under Dr. Sampath Prahalad’s lab, which focuses on juvenile idiopathic arthritis and its risk factors. She plans to pursue a career in medicine after taking a gap year to gain experience in the healthcare and research fields.

On the 30th of June, the students of Emory University attended the Neuroethics Network session held at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière (ICM). The first lecture was given by John Harris, a bioethicist and professor emeritus at University of Manchester. His talk was entitled How Smart Do We Want Machines to Be? and Harris addressed several points concerning artificial intelligence (AI). An audience member asked a question regarding self-driving smart cars, also asked by Dr. Rommelfanger in a group exercise in class, “You are given a self-driving car and you have only two options: hitting and killing the ten pedestrians ahead or swerving into a wall and killing only yourself. What should the car be programmed to do and who would be at fault, possibly the programmer?” Harris said we should not have self-driving cars at all, but why should this concept be completely eliminated?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Redefining the X and Y-Axes of Cognitive Enhancement

By Somnath Das


This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.


I am a Senior at Emory University and am currently pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Currently, I am applying to medical school. My interest in healthcare lies primarily in understanding the behavioral motivations of patients as they navigate through various healthcare systems. I also wish to study how to effectively translate innovations powered by biomedical research into accurate health information for patients and optimized healthcare delivery. Neuroethics allows me to focus these interests onto patient dignity and rights when considering the role of novel therapeutics and interventions in treatment. Studying this fascinating field has given me a perspective on the role that deontological considerations play in both neuroscience and medicine as a whole. It is with this perspective that I hope to approach my patients with a balanced worldview, taking into account both individual rights as well as stakeholders and developers participating in a rapidly changing field.

Hearing from leading scholars at the Neuroethics Network was a once in a lifetime moment for me. Participating in a wide-ranging, multi-faceted discussion about frontiers in the field proved to be really engaging and fostered my development as a student. Each seminar challenged my understanding of various topics both within and beyond the field of neuroscience, and each speaker gradually enhanced my appreciation of what is a growing field.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cognitive Enhancement in the Movie Limitless Through a Lens of Structural Racism

By Nadia Irfan

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.


The Western society familiar to most of us attending the Neuroethics Network conference in Paris is certainly one that values and glorifies financial gain and socio-economic upward mobility. We are obsessed with the notion of the “optimal” self: an idealized image of a self that never tires, never ages, and is always running at its top performance. The Neuroethics Network Cinéma du Cerveau movie Limitless raises an interesting perspective about who represents this image, who achieves and maintains this lifestyle, and whether this optimal version only has value in a competitive context.

I think when representing cognitive enhancement, it is important to note the lens it is viewed through. Eddie Morra, the main character in the film, is played by Bradley Cooper, “a young, able-bodied, white, cis-gendered heterosexual male,” as noted by Dr. Karen Rommelfanger at the conference. This white male image, when paired with idealized cognitive enhancement, appeals to young and old demographics, with the young wrapped up in the sexiness of the drug, and the old fascinated by anti-aging.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Reflections on the Neuroethics Network Conference in Paris

By Thomasine Kushner 

*Editor's Note: Tomi Kushner is co-chair with Yves Agid for the Annual Neuroethics Network Conference in France. She had these reflections to offer.  The remainder of the posts this week will feature student reflections on various sessions in the conference. Enjoy!

The 3rd Neuroethics Network conference took place, June 29-July 1, 2016 hosted by ICM (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière), Paris’ renowned Brain and Spine Institute. This annual conference brings together researchers, scholars and clinicians in neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry, and law to foster dialogue and interdisciplinary collaboration with regard to the ethical issues generated by advances in brain science.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mental Alchemy

By Adina Roskies

Adina Roskies is Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Cognitive Science Program at Dartmouth College. She received a Ph.D from the University of California, San Diego in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science in 1995, a Ph.D. from MIT in Philosophy in 2004, and an M.S.L. from Yale Law School in 2014. Dr. Roskies’ philosophical research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience, and include philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and ethics. Her recent work focuses on free will and responsibility. Dr. Roskies is also a member of the AJOB Neuroscience editorial board.

In the last several months I’ve attended a few workshops on the topic of “cognitive ontology.” One workshop, held at the Rotman Institute at the University of Western Ontario was entitled “Rethinking the taxonomy of psychology”; the other, at Macquarie University was called “Reshaping the mind: New work on cognitive ontology”. The basic question raised by these workshops is whether the concepts we use to investigate cognition and refer to its constructs and processes are the “right” ones, or the ones we ought to use. The way in which this question has been elaborated by the speakers at these meetings varies: the topic has very broad scope. In what follows, I’ll sketch a few of the ways it has been discussed. As you will see, although the topic is more centrally one of interest to philosophy of neuroscience and psychology, it also has potential ramifications for neuroethics.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Should Getting High be a Possible Treatment for Depression?

By Maria Paula Martinez

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Maria Paula Martinez is a student of a joint degree program majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University and Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is 20 years old and originally from Bogota, Colombia.

What if instead of the traditional and usually ineffective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression, we could provide patients with a drug that directly mimics the effects of serotonin, the “happiness neurotransmitter”? Not only have such compounds been around for over a millennium, but they are the active ingredients in psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms. A scientific paper released in The Lancet Psychiatry this past May opened the possibility for compounds like psilocybin, the active ingredient of “shrooms”, to potentially treat depression. A group of researchers in the Imperial College of London were able to give psilocybin to 12 patients with depression who had unsuccessfully tried at least two different treatment types and had suffered from depression for an average of 17.8 years. The results of this preliminary study were astonishing. Not only did all patients show significant improvements after a single week of treatment, but the remission rate was double that of patients given SSRIs in a three-month treatment period (Cormier, 2016). Even though these are only preliminary results, it seems there is little control over how the media decides to portray these results, and what is likely to happen when these news articles reach the hands of patients with depression is not promising. “Magic-mushroom drug lifts depression in first human trial” and “How Magic Mushrooms Could Treat Depression” are only two of the titles of the news articles about this study. Both in prestigious journals, Nature News and Time, respectively, they portray an erroneous view of how this hallucinogen can be used as a treatment for depression and make the line between illicit drug and therapy a blur.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dopamine Stimulating Headphones and How They Can Change Our Definition of Being High

By Laura Morales

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris in Summer 2016.

Laura Morales is 21 years old and originally from Panama. She is currently a senior pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Psychology in Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

If you have ever heard a song that sends chills down your spine, relaxes your entire body and gives you a general feeling of being close to ecstasy, you have experienced the “high-like sensation” the makers of Nervana wish to tap into. The company Nervana has designed a set of headphones that, while playing music, transcutaneously send electrical signals into the left ear to stimulate the vagus nerve to match the frequency of the beat of the music. The vagus nerve is involved with activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is normally activated when the body is at rest. This nerve stimulation results in the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins—these are transmitters thought to be related to that “feel-good” sensation (Ashby & Isen, 1999). Vagus nerve stimulation has been used to treat epilepsy (Schachter & Saper, 1998), although the mechanism through which it works is not well understood. While reducing seizures, there have also been reports that vagus nerve stimulation has improved the overall mood in people with epilepsy (Terry Jr, 2014). Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation has also been shown to have equivalent anticonvulsive effects as the more invasive method (Ellrich, 2011). Similar to this therapeutic approach, Nervana advertises their headphones as promoting wellness and recommends the headphones be used twice a day for 45 minutes to improve mood and increase general health.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Ethical Implications of Harvesting Human Organs from Pigs

By Anayelly Medina

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris in Summer 2016.

Anayelly is a rising Senior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology.

The Chimera is a Greek mythological fire-breathing monstrosity composed of multiple animal parts with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a snake. Not surprisingly, in the realm of science, chimera is also the name given to an organism or embryo containing a mixture of cells from two species. Recently, the world has learned of the current research efforts being made towards growing human organs in other animals, specifically pigs [2,3,4,5]. From these efforts, the human-pig chimera has been developed and so have ethical questions concerning the process and outcomes of this research.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Battle of Nerves

By Sol Lee

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sol Lee studies Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University. As a pre-med student, he is enthusiastic about primary care and global health concerns. Sol is currently doing research on glutamate receptors in Parkinson’s Disease in the Smith Lab.

Absolutely preposterous. This was the response of British doctors in 1916 as they declared heresy to Frederick Mott’s proposal: that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coincides with an abnormal physical alteration of the brain. PTSD is caused by traumatic events or extreme stressors such as war, personal assaults, and car accidents. Symptoms include negative changes in feelings or beliefs, constantly feeling jittery or alert, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and experiencing flashbacks. Physicians and scientists at that time, and until recently, believed that PTSD simply meant emotional trauma. After one hundred years, however, new research suggests that Mott may have been right.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Ethics of Using Brain Stimulation to Enhance Learning in Children

By Peter Leistikow

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris in Summer 2016.

Peter Leistikow is an undergraduate student at Emory University studying Neuroscience and Sociology. When he is not doing research in pharmacology, Peter works as a volunteer Advanced EMT in the student-run Emory Emergency Medical Service. 

Ever since the advent of electricity, people have tried to harness this power for therapeutic purposes. Nineteenth century posters touted the benefits of “self-applicable curatives for nervous, functional, chronic, and organic diseases” in the form of electric belts and harnesses (Browne 2014). Although these items are historical curiosities today, scientists are still trying to harness the potential benefits of electricity, especially in the treatment of psychiatric and learning disorders.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) is a non-invasive experimental procedure that utilizes direct currents applied to two electrodes on the head with the goal of stimulating specific brain areas (John Hopkins Medicine 2016). Although there is evidence that this technology, and it’s closely related variant transcranial random-noise stimulation (TRNS), can increase attention and aid in treating cognitive impairments and depression, TDCS has caught the interest of companies and hobbyists assembling these devices for cognitive enhancement (Hogenboom 2014). This has worried some researchers, who have called for regulations regarding the sale and use of this technology which they fear can have detrimental effects if used incorrectly (Wexler 2015).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Humanity

By Ethan Morris

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Ethan Morris is a rising undergraduate senior at Emory University, majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in History. Ethan is a member of the Dilks Lab at Emory and is a legislator on the Emory University Student Government Association. Ethan is from Denver, Colorado and loves to ski.

Do you ever want to turn your brain off, even just for a moment? Most of us have probably wanted to get away from the daily stressors and concerns that plague our lives. But aside from a vacation, how can we truly get away? Some people are beginning to turn this hypothetical question into reality.

One man, Thomas Thwaites, decided he would live as a goat for a few days, choosing to forego life as a human in favor of four-legged prosthetics and an all-grass diet. To achieve goat-hood, Thwaites used an increasingly prominent technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) that uses electromagnetic induction to temporarily alter brain function. Thwaites applied TMS to the temporal lobe of his brain, namely his speech areas of cortex, thus electromagnetically impairing his ability to speak like a human so he could become more like a goat.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Would a Therapy for Down Syndrome Change Lives For Better or For Worse?

By Sarika Sachdeva

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sarika Sachdeva is an undergraduate junior at Emory studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Economics. She is involved with research on stimulant abuse and addiction under Dr. Leonard Howell at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

Researchers around the world are working to develop treatments and cures for all kinds of genetic disorders and abnormalities, but what happens when the people affected by the condition don’t want it taken away? New breakthroughs in treatment are often controversial for non-fatal conditions such as Down Syndrome, which causes inhibited neural communication and leads to learning delays as a result of an extra copy of chromosome 21 (Rochman, 2015).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Frontiers in Animal Research Neuroethics at the Center for Neuroscience and Society

By Tyler M. John

Tyler John is a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health Department of Bioethics interested in resource allocation, animal ethics, and moral theory. This fall, he will begin a PhD in Philosophy at Rutgers University. 

The opinions expressed are the authors’ own. They do not reflect any position or policy of any U.S. governmental entity, including the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Health and Human Services. 

On June 9-10, I joined a gathering of philosophers, psychologists, veterinarians, and biomedical researchers for the Animal Research Neuroethics Workshop at the Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society. The workshop, organized by neuroethicists Adam Shriver, James Serpell, and Martha Farah, focused on the ethical issues raised by new advances in neuroscience research with non-human animals. Here, researchers from many disciplines came together to share notes from the field and discuss new neuroethics problems. 

Over two days, we discussed problems like, What is the moral status of so-called “brains in dishes”? Is it morally permissible for scientists to cognitively enhance mice, rats, and chimps, giving them advanced cognitive capacities? Is it even conceptually possible to have a mouse model of human depression given the substantial psychological differences between humans and mice? What, more broadly, should we say about the scientific validity and moral permissibility of current neurological research on non-human animals? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Physical, Social, and Societal Consequences of “Smart” Drugs

By Sunidhi Ramesh

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris in Summer 2016.

Sunidhi Ramesh, an Atlanta native, is entering her third year at Emory University where she is double majoring in Sociology and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology.  After experiencing an educational environment in high school that was so competitive that it practically forced students into taking study drugs, cheating, and cutting corners, she founded “The Prism Project,” an initiative that revolves around anonymous stories that highlight the problems that exist within the American education system. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and has served on College Council’s Admissions and Scholarships committee, is presently active on Emory’s Committee of Academic Integrity, and is involved in the Indian Cultural Exchange organization at Emory. 

“I remember the night I first took one. A friend of mine had some extra, so he handed me one the night before a big test. This test was important; I was doing pretty badly in the class, and I knew that my performance on it would decide my final grade. I wasn’t the type to take Adderall to get ahead. But I was desperate. And I thought it was only going to be this one time.

My grades skyrocketed. Like, you don’t understand. I played football and had to take care of my mom after school; the main reason I did so badly before was that I didn’t have the energy to put into school that I wanted to. But these pills… these pills gave me that. The energy I didn’t have.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Preview the latest issue of AJOB Neuroscience!

Watch this video advertising the soon-to-be published Spring 2016 issue of AJOB Neuroscience.  The video features two AJOBN editors describing the target articles that will appear in issue 7.2.  Keep an eye on http://www.ajobneuroscience.com and The Neuroethics Blog for more information on 7.2's upcoming release. 

Enjoy!





Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nobody Ever Believes This Story: Slam Poetry as a Palimpsestic Space for Mental Illness Identity

By Chandler Batchelor

Chandler Batchelor is a graduate student in the Literature, Medicine, and Culture MA program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is interested in alternative and holistic approaches to mental healthcare, doctor-patient relationships in mental healthcare, and mental health advocacy.

Typically, descriptions of mental illness provided by medical professionals are often taken more seriously than descriptions given by the diagnosed themselves. Biomedicine has a particular way of talking about mental abnormalities, describing mental experiences with symptoms. It uses words like “depression,” “flat affect,” and “grandiose sense of self” to depict concrete outward signs of internal dysfunction. In our culture, this biomedical rhetoric is upheld as the definitive, most correct and objective way of describing mental illness. But while biomedicine is an excellent tool for describing diseases, it often fails to capture the subjective nuances of the illness experience. By looking at how the diagnosed talk about their subjective experiences, we can gain new insights that could not be gleaned from a biomedical understanding alone (Estroff, 2003; Kleinman, 1988).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The plague at our doorstep: ethical issues presented by the Zika virus outbreak

By Ryan Purcell

Image courtesy of Flickr user Day Donaldson
“Never before in history has there been a situation when a bite from a mosquito can result in such a devastating scenario.” So says Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Zika virus has captured headlines since late 2015, when word spread north from Brazil that a virus, new to the Americas, may be silently causing alarming neurodevelopmental disorders in newborns. Now, the southern United States is preparing to confront the mosquito-borne illness, which “may become the first great plague of the 21st century.” As public health officials continue to work to mitigate the impact of what the World Health Organization has declared a “Global Health Emergency”, there are several important ethical issues that must be considered. These include a women’s reproductive rights, disability rights concerning those most affected, and the growing realization that poverty-stricken regions and neighborhoods will bear a disproportional burden from this disease. Each of these concerns deserves much more attention than could be provided here. My current aim is merely to point out key issues to stimulate discussion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Consumer Neurotechnology: New Products, More Regulatory Complexity

By Anna Wexler

Anna Wexler is a PhD candidate in the HASTS (History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society) at MIT and a 2015-2016 visiting scholar at the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation focuses on the ethical, legal and social implications of emerging neuroscience technology, with a particular focus on the home use of noninvasive brain stimulation.

Just when it seemed like the consumer neurotechnology market couldn’t get any stranger—after all, who would’ve expected that a sleek white triangle could be placed on the forehead for “calm” or “energy” vibes—two new products recently hit the market that further complicate the challenges of regulating this emerging market. Halo Sport is a brain stimulator marketed for athletic enhancement that utilizes technology similar to transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), while Nervana, which began taking pre-orders in March, is the first noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device to be sold directly to the public in the United States.

Halo Neuroscience, the manufacturer of Halo Sport, advertises that its product “accelerates gains in strength, explosiveness, and dexterity.” In many ways, Halo Sport overcomes obstacles that have plagued other direct-to-consumer brain stimulation products. Because Halo Sport only claims to stimulate the motor cortex—which, conveniently for the company, lies beneath the area of the head where a pair of headphones might sit—the product does not utilize stray wires or a futuristic headset, but instead takes the recognizable shape of headphones. The beneficial effect of a familiar design should not be underestimated: many potentially useful technology tools have failed in no small part due to their unusual “look.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Submit your Abstract for the 2016 International Neuroethics Society Meeting in San Diego!

Mark your calendars now for the 2016 International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting taking place in San Diego, CA on November 11th and November 12th. This year the conference will feature 2 days of talks, networking opportunities, and poster presentations.

Highlights from the meeting include Plenary Talks by Dr. Steve Hyman of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research and Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), while the two featured sessions on the 12th are entitled “Mind-Brain and the Competing Identities of Neuroethics” and “Deconstructing Therapeutic Neurotechnology 'Narratives': A Case Study of DBS for Depression.”

Moderated by Dr. Eric Racine from the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, “Mind-Brain and the Competing Identities of Neuroethics” will discuss three perspectives of neuroscience: empirical, speculative, and pragmatic, and these three views will be presented by Dr. Paul Applebaum, Dr. Tom Buller, Dr. Jennifer Chandler, and Dr. Saskia Nagel. “Deconstructing Therapeutic Neurotechnology 'Narratives': A Case Study of DBS for Depression” will also highlight three different viewpoints; neuroscientist Dr. Helen Mayberg, philosopher Dr. Sara Goering, and journalist Mo Costandi will explore how to interpret DBS patient narratives. The panel will be moderated by Emory University’s Dr. Karen Rommelfanger.

Thursday's events will take place in the San Diego Central Library
The 2016 INS Meeting will also kick-off the International Ambassador Program with a 2-hour session on international neuroethics. While the 1st hour will focus on discussions from leading international figures, the 2nd hour will involve breakout group sessions that include topic such as career opportunities from national neuroscience initiatives, how exchange programs can encourage communication, and how oversight groups will differ among national agencies.

There is still time to participate in the 2016 Meeting! Important deadlines to consider are listed below. 

• The abstract deadline for a poster presentation has been extended to June 15th
The 3rd Annual Student/Postdoc Essay Contest deadline has been extended to June 30th 
Logo Contest submissions are due June 30th