News and analysis on the implications of brain science

Does modern neuroscience really help us understand behavior?

by Danbee Kim and Gonçalo Lopes

Massive | October 3, 2017

Two experts argue that the field needs to move beyond its limited roots.

‘But you can’t do that!’ Why immoral actions seem impossible

by Jonathan Phillips

Aeon | September 29, 2017

When you see someone run through a red light, it’s natural to think: ‘Wait, you can’t do that!’ And, by this, I don’t just mean that it was wrong to do that. If I did, I’d have said: ‘Wait, you shouldn’t do that!’ Instead, there’s a way in which we really meant that they can’t do that. Why?

Understanding Psychopathy

by Kayt Sukel

Dana Foundation | September 27, 2017

Research on college students and convicts suggests that the traits that make up the disorder exist in a spectrum across the population. Details on how people with psychopathy weigh the costs and benefits of lying as compared with others will help us better understand the disorder and could help find ways to stem its severity.

Ethical Issues when Modelling Brain Disorders in Non-human Primates

by Carolyn Neuhaus

BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics Blog | September 22, 2017

The lure of using new genetic technologies combined with the promise of novel therapeutics present a formidable challenge to those who call for slow, careful, and only necessary research involving non-human primates. Researchers should not create macaques with social deficits or capuchin monkeys with memory deficits just because they can.

Neuroscience as Outreach

by Adina Roskies

The Neuroethics Blog | September 12, 2017

In this era in which science is ignored, deemed irrelevant, or actively suppressed, there is "a growing need for people in all the sciences and in ethics to speak out and to educate, wherever possible."

Science debate: Should we embrace an enhanced future?

by Alexander Lees | September 9, 2017

Do we all have the right to enhance our bodies as technology and pharmaceuticals (and caffeine) will allow, or is that immoral? As the probably over-used term has it, would that be "playing God"? And who gets to decide?

Stop pretending you really know what AI is and read this instead

by John Pavlus

Quartz | September 6, 2017

Using the same science-fictional shorthand to describe anything from self-driving cars to slightly better ad targeting surely inhibits basic comprehension. But its potential for seeding both magical thinking and abject confusion about real economic, social, and political changes also seems bottomless. If the experts don’t really know what they talk about when they talk about AI, is it any wonder that you and I don’t, either?

Brain Injury and the Civil Right We Don’t Think About

by Joseph J. Fins

New York Times Opinion Pages | August 24, 2017

If we reconceived rehabilitation as education, no one would graduate after a six-week course of care. Instead, we would promote lifelong learning as a means to achieve a recovered life. If there is a legal obligation to educate the developing brain, should there not be a correlative responsibility to those whose brain are in a process of redevelopment and recovery?

See also

Ultra-small antennas point way to miniature brain implants

by Bruno Martin

Nature | August 23, 2017

Metal antennas that send and receive TV signals and radio waves could soon be replaced by tiny films up to one hundred times smaller, scientists say. Among the possible benefits are smaller smartphones and wearable technology, and miniaturized implantable devices to stimulate brain cells.

INS Interviews: Making Way for Truth and Technology

by The International Neuroethics Society

Dana blog | August 22, 2017

In advance of the International Neuroethics Society's annual meeting, an interview with Karola Kreitmair, philosopher, researcher, and playwright, who will be giving the "rising star" plenary lecture.

Chess Study Revives Debate Over Cognition-Enhancing Drugs

by Jeff Lyon

JAMA | August 16, 2017

A placebo-controlled study suggesting that cognition-enhancing drugs (CEs) can improve a chess player’s performance and a related survey indicating that nearly 10% of ranked German chess players have taken them during competition have thrown the spotlight once again on “smart pills,” their purported benefits, and uncharted dangers.

Why You Can’t Trust Yourself to Match Photos of Strangers’ Faces

by Heather Murphy

New York Times | August 16, 2017

Matching up photos of strangers’ faces is surprisingly difficult, and the average person is likely to be duped by matching hairstyles.

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