News and analysis on the implications of brain science

Europe divided over robot ‘personhood’

by Janosch Delcker

Politico | April 11, 2018

In a letter to the European Commission, 156 experts from 14 countries warn against adopting EU Parliament proposal.

The Seven Principles for Ethical Consumer Neurotechnologies: How to Develop Consumer Neurotechnologies that Contribute to Human Flourishing

by Karola Kreitmair

Neuroethics Blog | April 3, 2018

The seven principles are: safety, veracity, privacy, epistemic appropriateness, existential authenticity, just distribution, oversight

DNA tests for IQ are coming, but it might not be smart to take one

by Antonio Regalado

MIT Technology Review | April 2, 2018

For psychologists working in genetics, the breakthroughs of the last year have brought DNA prediction of behavior much closer to practical use. In the public square, though, they face a throng of skeptics, who say their science is misleading or who disavow it altogether.

For Many Strokes, There’s an Effective Treatment. Why Aren’t Some Doctors Offering It?

by Gina Kolata

New York Times | March 26, 2018

Two decades ago, a large federal clinical trial proved that a so-called clot-buster drug, tissue plasminogen activator (T.P.A.), could prevent brain injury after a stroke by opening up the blocked vessel. Then and now, a vocal minority of disbelievers has denied people this care.

Can Electrically Stimulating Your Brain Make You Too Happy?

by Lone Frank

The Atlantic | March 21, 2018

When doctors can directly access patients' cerebral reward networks, someone has to decide just how good people should feel.

Yale neuroscientists debunk the idea that anyone is “normal”

by Ephrat Livni

Quartz | March 15, 2018

Normal is a relative state that depends on time, place, and circumstance. There’s no one right way to be a human, and that applies to mental as well as physical states. That’s why neuroscientists are advocating for more recognition of the bizarre normalcy of all complex humans in psychiatry—an argument that can help all of us take a bigger-picture view.

Seeking Clues to Criminality in the Brain

by Carl Sherman | February 22, 2018

With improved imaging and using new maps of the connections in the brain, researchers find anatomical suggestions that a particular circuit is altered in some people who commit crimes. Might such applications be used in decisions about sentencing, parole, and post-release monitoring? “Probably not in the next 5 years, but maybe in the next 20,” says one.

Scientists studying psychoactive drugs accidentally proved the self is an illusion

by Ephrat Livni

Quartz | February 9, 2018

Philosophers and mystics have long contemplated the disconcerting notion that the fixed self is an illusion. Neuroscientists now think they can prove it or, at least, help us glimpse this truth with some help from psilocybin, the psychoactive property in magic mushrooms.

Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious?

by Joanna Klein

New York Times | February 2, 2018

Under poor soil conditions, the pea seems to be able to assess risk. The sensitive plant can make memories and learn to stop recoiling if you mess with it enough. The Venus fly trap appears to count when insects trigger its trap. And plants can communicate with one another and with caterpillars. Now, a study published recently in Annals of Botany has shown that plants can be frozen in place with a range of anesthetics, including the types that are used when you undergo surgery.

The International Roots of Future Neuroethics

by Denis Larrivee

Neuroethics Blog | January 30, 2018

At the International Neuroethics Society’s annual meeting in 2017, panels underlined both the rapid upswing of global investment in neuroscience and the internationally perceived need for ethical deliberation about its interpretive significance, distinctive cultural manifestations, and evolution of complementary policy and juridical structures best serving global versus regional interests.

The ‘Killer Robots’ Are Us

by Michael Robillard

NYT Opinion Pages | January 29, 2018

The current language in the killer robot debate suggests that those weapons are capable of acting without meaningful human control, and that their creation and use is somehow distinct from other sorts of collective actions. It also suggests that potential harm arising from that creation and use may be morally unattributable to those who create and use them.

Cocktail of Brain Chemicals May Be a Key to What Makes Us Human

by Bret Stetka

Scientific American | January 24, 2018

A study that compares us with other primates finds a brain region linked to social behavior that may offer a biological explanation for why humans, not chimps, produced Shakespeare, Gandhi and Einstein.

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