Skip to main content

Ethical Issues in Neurosurgery: A Special Issue of Virtual Mentor

This month the American Medical Association’s journal Virtual Mentor published a series of articles about the ethical issues pertaining to neurosurgery. Some of the articles include discussions about deep brain stimulation in early-stage Parkinson Disease, simulation and neuro-surgery teaching tools, and integrating ethics into science education. The special issue also featured two members of the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience: editor-in-chief Dr. Paul Root Wolpe, and editor Dr. John Banja. The issue was guest edited by a neurosurgical resident at Emory University, Jordan Amadio. Click here to view the special issue.

Emerging Ethical Issues in Neurosurgery: An Interview with Dr. Wolpe by Dr. Jordan Amadio

“The single most important thing to remember is that when we intervene in the brain it is a completely different kind of intervention than when we intervene in any other part of the body. It has the potential of altering those aspects of ourselves that we think of as most human–our personalities, our ability to communicate, and our subjective world. When we begin to think about something like deep brain stimulation, which has been shown to induce personality shifts, or when we talk about adding some sort of information technology to our brain and processes, or when we talk about the potential of chemically altering the brain through psycho-pharmaceuticals, … it is a different qualitative kind of shift in the patient than if we were for example intervening in the function of their kidney, their heart, or their liver.”

Listen to more of the interview here.


Disclosure of Experience as a Risk Factor in Informed Consent for Neurosurgery: The Case of Johnson v. Kokemoor

By Dr. John Banja

“A problem that has bedeviled both medical law and medical ethics for decades concerns the scope of risk-related information that a health professional should provide to patients, especially when that information involves the health professional’s experience and success rates with a certain procedure. For example, I take a rather perverse delight in provoking medical students with the following line of questioning: “How do you determine what risks you’re going to disclose to a patient?””

View the rest of the article here.

Want to cite this post?

Marshall, J. (2015). Ethical Issues in Neurosurgery: A Special Issue of Virtual Mentor. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on
, from


Emory Neuroethics on Facebook