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From mind-reading to brain implants

Ethics and the neuroscience revolution

Dr. Eric Racine

ABSTRACT: The future of neuroscience promises to bring a range of novel basic and applied research that could radically change our views of brain health and human nature. Already with research into the healthy and diseased brain, novel interventions on the brain are flourishing. These range from advances in neuroimaging research yielding insights into neurological disorders, behaviour and personality to developments in neurosurgical stimulation for motor and neuropsychiatric disorders. Given the importance of the brain in defining who we are and the vulnerability of neurological and psychiatric patients, neuroscience increasingly intersects with crucial ethical, legal, and social issues. We have never perhaps faced so directly the consequences and responsibilities that modern biomedical science bestows upon us as we will with the neuroscience revolution. I will discuss briefly the ethical aspects of basic and clinical neuroscience, “neuroethics” and some of the key challenges in current and future applications of neuroscience. Also, a framework of neuroethical responsibilities including scientific integrity and public engagement will be proposed to tackle challenges in neuroscience.

THE SPEAKER: Eric Racine, PhD, is the Director of the Neuroethics Research Unit at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal (IRCM). He is also a member of the Department of Medicine (University of Montreal), Adjunct Professor at the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Affiliate Member of the Biomedical Ethics Unit (McGill University). He is the author of several papers and book chapters examining ethical issues in the application of neuroscience in research and patient care.

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