Exploring the ethics of brain research for very young scientists

March 18, 2015

The role of ethics in guiding current brain research is a top news story on the Frontiers for Young Minds - Science edited for kids by kids - website.

Just in time for Brain Awareness Week 2015, neuroethics researchers based at the University of British Columbia published "The brain and ethics: an introduction to research in neuroethics," a review article in which they introduce the field of neuroethics and describe its underlying principles, and describe four research studies carried out  at the National Core for neuroethics, "to give you an idea of the range of work that is being done by those who are interested in the ethics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of ethics."

Wonderful graphics accompany the publication, a collaborative effort of Edel Mc Glanaghy, a young researcher with the National Core for Neuroethics, NeuroDevNet Neuroethics Core Manager Nina Di Pietro, and Dr. Judy Illes, co-lead of NeuroDevNet's Neuroethics Core.

The four research studies presented by the authors stem from work undertaken during the first five years of the Network's existence as an national Network of Centres of Excellence, including explorations of:

  • the ethics of cognitive enhancement, such as the use of stimulant drugs by individuals who do not need them for typical functioning,
  • lack of clinical trials on antipsychotic medications for use in children with neurodisabilities
  • issues arising from unexpected, or incidental findings derived from brain scans, and
  • the quality of online health information for neurodevelopmental disorders on advocacy websites

Read The brain and ethics: an introduction to research in neuroethics, as edited by 10 year old Darius, a fifth grader who "enjoys reading about science, particularly chemistry, biology, and neuroscience."

Happy Brain Awareness Week!