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.